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Good of you to notice

March 1, 2010

I see him everyday at drop off. A dad, most likely a house-husband, with three young children. He always says “Good morning,” to me with an expectant catch at the end of that everyday word, as if hoping to engage me for just a little while longer. But I don’t; I can’t. I’m rushing, you see. I have my two children to hustle in–with little hands barely containing the contents of lunches, coats and books…and the urgency of the ever-present weight of the dreaded tardy slip on our minds. We walk quickly to the beat of “Hur-ry, hur-ry” tapping with each fast, marching step.

Children delivered, I stop, breathe, finally, back at the sign-in desk. The dad is there too. He has just come in, of course, because his hands are just as full. His kids will obviously be starting their day late, all of them, but all seems calm. You see, he has a son with cerebral palsy in a wheelchair/stroller-type contraption, as well as his preschooler and an elementary school child. His face looks youngish, though I can see the many worry lines creased into his forehead and eyes, giving him a look that belies his years. The gray hair doesn’t help either. He smiles at me again.

“Got them all in okay?” He has a nice smile. This time I notice.

“Yes. Thanks,” I reply, smiling back. Polite banter between strangers.

I notice he wears a cross around his neck. I wonder if his faith is what keeps him going but am too shy to ask such a personal question of a man I don’t really know. As I’m musing over this he asks me suddenly:

“Do you mind if I ask you something personal?”

I’m jarred by the synchronicity, the timing of his question, but I look up from the sign-in sheet and answer, “I don’t mind.”

“I guess it’s a comment more than a question. Your son, the little one. He’s so sweet with you and quite beautiful. I just want to say that I noticed that and I think it’s really wonderful.”

Unexpectedly, my eyes tear up. I’m not a sappy person. I see this guy every day with his severely handicapped child and his infinite patience. I’m not hormonal. I know I’m good with my little dude and he’s thinks “I’m the world and more,” which is something I cherish. Why should a nice guy, on this particular day, who says nice things to me, make me (oh god) misty? Do I really need that validation that I’m a good mother from a man who is seemingly a good father?

I’m a little taken aback, clearly, because I don’t answer right away. I’m just thinking that I feel kind of selfish now for not making a comment earlier to him, all these many months, about what an amazing father I think he must be, to handle three kids, one with a severe disability, in such a soothing manner–something I fail at frequently with my healthy two.

“Thank you,” I manage. “You are a very sweet man to notice that and to actually say something to me. That means a lot.” I smile at him.

I decided to wait for him to check his kids in and we ended up having a nice conversation as we walked (at a leisurely pace) back to the parking lot. It was, well, nice.

And we had a little laugh at the mom who always runs in and runs out in her tennis whites, rushing her kids along so hastily that they trip. I was never that bad.

Thank God.

One Comment
  1. this was such a sweet story. it really touched my heart. thanks so much for sharing — these reminders are so important. 🙂

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