Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

I'd like to tell you the story of my day and of someone who made it easier, not because she had to or it was 'the right thing to do', but simply because she wanted to...

Today was an absolutely beautiful day! When I dropped my son off at pre-school this morning, I promised him that we could go to the park after I picked him up. This has turned into our habitual Wednesday practice and he looks forward to it so much that he doesn't even come in the house when we get home. He asks me to get his bike out and then he sits on it at the front door while I get ready (which usually involves at least 20 minutes of unpacking school stuff and making and packing lunch)!

Today though, Mommy had a problem:
I had appointments and errands that filled my morning and by the time I had to pick the munchkin up at school, I hadn't even returned home for a few minutes. This made for a very tired 9-months pregnant mommy! I was struggling today under a wave of that completely debilitating fatigue that often comes with pregnancy, and finding it hard to function at any speed other than super-slow.

I managed to convince Big Brother to come inside for lunch today (no energy to pack a picnic) and he was a very cooperative little boy and even let me rest on the couch for a few minutes after lunch. I knew, however, that I wasn't going to escape the sojourn to the park. So, after my brief rest, which didn't really do anything for the fatigue but did allow me to gather a small amount of stamina for the adventure ahead, I answered 'yes' to the 14th repetition of the question, "Is it time to go to the park yet?"
Now, we live at the top of the hill from the park and gravity rather helps on the way down - both with the 3-year-old's bike and Mommy's large belly. Coming back home...not so easy!

Once we get down to the park, there's lots he can do and wants me to do. One of his favorites is for me to walk around after him as he rides his bike around the various paths, but the child I'm carrying is now almost 8 lbs and I just can't lug him around after a 3-year-old intent on training for Olympic speed-tricycling. At this point, 2 weeks away from D-Day, there's not much more I can do than sit on a bench and watch him play. Sometimes there are other kids there to play with which is always very helpful...
Unfortunately, today there were no other kids at the park when we got there. As usual, this precipitated a mournful face and a melancholy, "Where are my friends? I miss my friends." (friends being anyone who will play with him - not specific people at this point). So, in lieu of playing with friends, we decided to ride over to the bridge which crosses a small stream. He pedalled forth with much gusto and a great deal of frenzied speed...Mommy waddled along in his wake.
When we got to the bridge, he decided that he would ride around the circle path on the other side and I would go the other way and meet him. Fair enough. We started out with things working to plan but then he got waylaid at the first bench. A woman was sitting on the bench enjoying the beautiful day. She was middle aged (45?) - I found out later than she has an 18 year old son. She was clearly just out for a walk to enjoy the weather and have some time to herself. Then, my self-professedly gregarious son ("Mommy, I'm not shy!" - Is this really my child?) finds her and starts chatting...well, bossing, right from the get-go. He asked her to walk with him while he rode (Mommy doesn't waddle nearly fast enough) and then when she capitulated to that request, he kept them coming. She ran back and forth on the bridge while he rode his trike ('racing') and laughed like a maniac. Then she trooped all the way back to the playground with him and proceeded to push him on the swing (that Mommy can't lift him into anymore), slide down the slides, and play hide and seek.
She played with my son for at least 45 minutes (!) while I was able to sit on a bench in the sun and relax. Someone just out for a walk and some 'me-time' took a significant amount of time out of her day to play with an active, energetic 3-year-old and give Mommy a little mental break. When I thanked her profusely at the end, she said that she had had a grand time and 'what a lovely way to spend a beautiful day'.
Amazing! So many people today are irritated by, impatient with, or dismissive of children, especially those that aren't their own. I was surprised by kindness today. Thank you, Annie.

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