Two days before a tantrum that would result in my bursting into tears, my kiddo stood on the edge of a curb and seemed afraid to cross the street. We had practiced this a lot, and he’d never shown fear before. We looked both ways, but he stayed on the edge.
I didn’t know he was on the cusp of big changes. Crossing more than a street, but crossing into toddler-hood and tumultuous changes in himself which would also mean tumultuous changes in our parenting experience. I didn’t know how challenging the next four months would be, nor that it would result in the sweetest of sweet spots: a well-adjusted kiddo, eager to help around the house, proud to say “thank you” and “please,” and filled with an abundance of love and exuberance.
On that day as we balanced on the edge of the curb, I impatiently encouraged him to “come on,” vaguely aware of a strangeness in the afternoon light and an unsettled feeling in my stomach.
An older boy, about eight years old, came toward us. I watched as he crossed the street and started to pass us. His black hair hung a bit shaggy around his face. He wore long shorts and a t-shirt. He was sweaty, like he might be coming home after a game of street basketball.
Just before he passed us, without even looking at me, he stopped and focused on my kiddo. He leaned down a bit and in a soft voice said, “Come on, it’s okay, I’ll help you.” He took my kiddo’s hand and ushered him across the street as I followed along. My kiddo trusted him implicitly, like they understood something together that my adult self couldn’t see.
The boy turned to re-cross the street and headed back where he’d been going. I gushed thanks but it was like he didn’t even see me. He just saw a little boy afraid and helped him in the most casual, natural way possible. No big deal.
But it was a big deal. This experience was six months ago, and I still think of this boy often–any time I need comfort or cheer. That boy’s moment of easy empathy and helpfulness reverberates in my life and lifts me up during heavy-hearted times.
Let there be millions and millions of children and adults like this in the world. Let us act in this easy manner of kindness and generosity as many times each day as we possibly can. You never know who you might be helping, and there’s no limit to how you might help.