I have a mad crush on Oliver today. No tsk'ing people, y'all know I adore both my boys, but #2 is really stroking my heartstrings on this frigid, gray Tuesday. He's all little boy squish and big hugs and kisses and sweet nothings and just the right amount of mischievous eye-glint. Tuesday is the kids' early release from school, so I moseyed over there at 2 with the intention of whisking them off on a hot chocolate date at a nearby bakery. Jack, however, was spontaneously invited over to a friend's house for a playdate (the mother said "homework first of course" which was absolute music to my ears and is just another reason she's one of my favorite pals), so Ol and I headed off by our lonesome. He thought hot chocolate at the bookstore cafe sounded lovely "because then we can get that pwincess book we wed last time. You know, the one with the mice." I did not know but just went with it. On our way in, a homeless man I see on a regular basis asked if we could help him. I offered to buy him a bagel but he said he had food and simply needed money for a place to stay. Based on the countless admonitions I've received over the years, I'm well aware that he could have been pulling my chain. But you know what, maybe not. It's cold as get-out today, and he has such a nice face, and I was bursting with love anyway since #2 is bundles of light. I didn't have any change so said I'd go inside, get some and come back. It took us a while to get the hot chocolate and change, make our way back downstairs and so forth, but I told Ol that I didn't want to have lied to the man so we really needed to go see him before we got the mysterious mouse-princess book. He misunderstood me and said, "Mom, WHY would you want to lie to that man?"
"Oh, Ol, I would never lie to anyone, and do you know why?"
"Because you are a gwown-up."
"Well, more essentially because lying is not good, and we are good people, you and I, so we do not lie."
"Mom, can I give him the paper?"
Oliver is obsessed with paying people. He likes to hold money and watch it exchange hands. If I forget to wait for him and instead go ahead and pay a sitter, he asks her to remove the money from her pocket and give it to him so that he can then give it right back. So anyway, I said, "of course you can give him the paper, and wish him good luck, ok?"
Ol burst from the bookstore door, just as the man was heading away (probably cursing me and/or feeling despondent that too many people suck), and ran up to him, beamed beatifically and said, "GOOD LUCK." Y'all, that man's smile was worth a thousand papers, and as he walked away, a young woman approached us and said, "that was, quite possibly, the most precious thing I have seen ever. That little boy is a keeper."
Perhaps for good measure, Ol smiled beatifically at her too.
And then we went and bought a fabulous pwincess book. And like I said, I'm crushing on him like it's my job.
I saw today a Facebook post from Patricia Polacco (prolific children's book author) that said, "Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always."
Ain't that the damn truth?! It's like trying to really know someone else's marriage; you simply cannot. I don't know what that man was going to do with the small bit of money we shared, but what I do know is that in all likelihood, his life is harder than mine. Whether that cash goes towards a place to stay or a candy bar or a 40, I just hope it lifted his spirits a little bit. I hope he felt noticed, if only for a moment. And I hope that my kids always retain the generosity of spirit and the deep core of kindness they both have, that they remember to draw on those traits and act on them, because in my experiences, small acts often make the biggest differences. My spirits were raised, my soul was warmed, just being a peripheral part of the whole exchange.
Lucky me to be my boys' mom!
(Even though it's possible that yesterday I told Tom that both kids were complete d-bags all day. Such is the roller coaster life of moms, and the rarer mom-like dad. Again, no tsk'ing folks, you know what I mean!)