I don't usually post in such quick succession, but I don't usually get attacked by babies in court, either.
Today I had a rare interpreting assignment - rare, in that I rarely accept them. My practice is primarily translation and I like sitting in my little corner office (formerly my son's bedroom), surrounded by dictionaries and other resources. Instrumental music streams from Pandora as strings of words and phrases populate my mind. I sift through them, weighing, sometimes researching, perpetually seeking the right ones for the text before me.
It's a zen place, is my office. It's comfortable and comforting. But every so often I exchange it for the rapid-fire pace of interpretation. Change is good exercise for mind and soul, so from time to time I put my interpreting license to good use and let my brain run a different kind of obstacle course.
Off come the sweatpants and t-shirt, and out of the closet comes the suit and closed-toe shoes. I use a small briefcase. I even put on a little makeup to boost my professional appearance.
And that brings us to today.
There was only one case on the docket that required an interpreter. The offender was a juvenile. She was accompanied by both her mother and her child, a cherub with rosy cheeks and bouncy curls. Since Grandma was both Mom's guardian and Baby’s sitter, the judge allowed us all to approach the bench.
I interpret in court so rarely that I no longer have equipment. That's a mistake. As I stepped up slightly behind Grandma and began to interpret simultaneously, Baby reared back in shock. Those sparkling eyes squeezed almost shut. "NO!" she yelled, perceiving in me some kind of threat. The judge glanced over. Grandma tried offering a bottle, which promptly flew through the air, narrowly missing me. The judge didn't stop, so neither did I.
"No, no, no!" Baby insisted, launching her pacifier at me. Every time I got too close to her grandmother the tears began to flow. Little snot bubbles formed. Grandma shifted her to the other hip. I shifted to the other side of Grandma, trying to keep distance between me and Baby without interfering with Mom and the judge.
Then Baby’s fists balled up and she alternated between trying to hit me and trying to push me away.
Grandma turned from one side to the other, alternately trying to pacify her and keep her away from me.
I alternately dodged baby fists and feet and tried to keep access to Grandma's ear.
I can only imagine the show we were giving the folks in the gallery.
The short hearing was eventually over. Mom, Grandma and Baby left. The judge, who had been focused on Mom but couldn't help catching the action in her peripheral vision, stared at me - I couldn't tell whether in amazement or shock. Finally she said, "What was THAT?"
I wanted to say, "The death of my dignity, Your Honor."
Instead, I asked for a signature on my time sheet and left. But on my way out of the courthouse I found the answer.
Baby was sitting on a bench with Grandma. As soon as she saw me, she squealed with laughter and reached for me, eyes sparkling.
So what was that, Your Honor?
Just a little reminder to step out of my world from time to time. To forgive and forget. Maybe be a bit more flexible sometimes.
Just a little Reminder with bouncy curls and a runny nose.
Ó Carol Shaw 2018