Thursday, March 6, 2014

March Slice of Life Story Challenge: Day 6 of 31 / Everybody is Somebody's Baby

Everybody is Somebody's Baby

Today's subway ride was a harrowing test of my patience and my belief in the goodness of humanity. I could make that statement just about every day, but I digress. A man wedged himself beside me, pushing his arm on top of mine and jamming his elbow into my ribs as he turned the pages of his paper. I sat in silence, uncomfortable, but not shocked as this was not the first time my personal space had been invaded so egregiously. The man was oblivious to the debate that raged inside my skull as I contemplated whether to say something. 
"Get off of me!" I wanted to shout. "Don't make a scene," I warned myself. 
Then, I thought of some of the character work we teach in our reading units. We teach kids to consider alternate points of view and to think how a scene would go from a different character's perspective. I began to see this man and our ride on the subway differently. I considered his background, and I thought perhaps he came from a culture more accustomed to close physical contact between strangers. 
I thought about how my interpretation of our interaction isn't the only right way. I thought about how much I touch my baby son (constantly), and that in my culture we touch each other much less as we get other. Then I thought about this man's mother. At one time, he was a baby. Someone gave birth to him. And someone, either his birth mother or someone else, fed him, clothed him, and helped him grow into a man. At one point, he was the center of someone's universe. Who am I to treat him like he doesn't matter? 
We all have a mother. Even if she didn't raise us, she grew us in her womb and gave birth to us. She gave us life. The next time I consider lashing out at a stranger, I will remember he was once someone's baby. I will treat him how I want my baby to be treated, as he traverses the world fifty years from now. 


  1. As a former subway traveler, I have an easy time visualizing your experience Anna. I really enjoyed your piece as it described your emotional inner struggle. You eventually found yourself with a broader perspective and a sense of enlightenment really. Your writing is an excellent example of the craft strategy -inside/outside where the writer gives the reader insight to both their physical and the emotional worlds. I thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience. Thank you for taking me on this special journey.

    1. Thank you Alan - that is such a nice comment. You inspire me to comment on not just the content of others' pieces but the craft as well.
      Though it's also nice to know you can relate to the subway experience!

  2. What a good example of taking a bad experience and turning it into a positive! I live in such a rural area that it's hard to think about mass transportation. I have to go to Chicago, DC, New York or London for that and there is usually enough of a "crowd" of us that WE may be the problem.

    Love your story and the thoughts about honoring mothers and how to treat others!

  3. I love imagining people as the small children they once were! If you squint your eyes, you can almost see what they might have looked like.

  4. This is great, Anna. I love how you compared this to students learning about perspective. You're right, everybody is somebody's someone. I learned that, too, when I became a mom.

  5. What a wonderful sentiment and an important reminder. I like to remember that EVERY child is the center of THEIR parents' universe!

  6. Talk about taking a bad experience and turning it on its head Anna. Wow! I'm so impressed. (I don't like crowded subways.)

    Would I be able to use this as one of my "be inspired" posts on TWT during the challenge? Pls. email me and lmk. THANKS!

  7. So glad I came to read this. I have had thoughts like these. Kudos to you for holding it in and mulling it over rather than lashing out. A true teacher, learner, thinker.

  8. "Who am I to treat him like he doesn't matter?" I enjoyed your message and seeing your thoughts. This resonated with me also as a parent of a child who is often oblivious to his space, and subsequently that of others :-)

  9. I love this post from the context of education; however, as you illustrated here, it is about humanity in general in our everyday interactions, not just career interactions.