Clearly I’m not keeping up with my blog anymore. This time I won’t try to make any lame or even not so lame excuses. I’ll just utter one word…no, make that two words. Grad. School.
However, obviously something prompted me to log in tonight and have to tell a story. You all know I love a good story, and boy have I got one. You also may know that I love Christmas, and this is a Christmas story. Well, maybe not really a Christmas story, but I sure am making it one because to me, it’s that good.
Pride. That may be what is actually driving me to start tapping away on my computer but it’s not truly what the story is about, I suppose. It’s about kindness. Here we go…
In around September I was out front raking the lawn while Sophie assisted me with a small children’s shovel. She was “raking” up a storm, believe me. A lady walked over and introduced herself as living across the street from us. It’s a busy, wide city street, so I hadn’t even ever seen her before. She told me that she sees me walking my son to the bus stop and was wondering how old he is. I told her that he’s 5 1/2. She proceeded to tell me that she’s taking care of her grandson who is 4 1/2 and she was hoping they could meet sometime. I told her that Cooper is friendlier than friendly and he’d be happy to have a new friend. I said they should stop over any time. We made a little more small talk and she went on her way.
Yesterday at around 9 in the morning the dog starts going crazy and there’s a quiet knock on the door. Sophie was still in her pjs and Cooper was barely out of his. I was sporting the crazy look that only those women out there with short hair can truly know. When you have short hair and you’ve slept on it…ooooh boy….believe me. It’s cah-razy. I ran to the bedroom to throw on a hat just to open the door. When I did, there she stood. The lady from September, and with her, the little boy. I didn’t know what to say so I started with a “hi”. She says “E (name omitted for privacy) wanted to play with his friend so we came over.” Huh. Um…okay. I step aside and invite them in.
The boy stands quietly inside the front door all big eyes and not uttering a word. I call Cooper over and say “this is our neighbor…why don’t you introduce yourself?” Cooper didn’t need any other intro and quickly began showing the boy around and asking him what kinds of things he likes to play with. As the boys got to know each other and Cooper showed him toy after toy, Sophie joined in and the three of them played wonderfully together. The grandmother took off her coat and said “since E is kind of shy, I think I’ll stay.” Good enough. We chatted a little bit, while she held a plastic drug store bag on her lap. After a little bit, with the children playing around us, she handed me the bag and told me it was for me. I opened it and found two small candles, which she quickly told me will “make the whole house smell like chocolate”, and a small Christmas card. On the outside of the card it said “To Cooper’s Family”, though it wasn’t spelled quite like I’ve written it here. It was clear it was painstakingly written as best she could and it was also clear that it may have taken a bit of work on her part to even get out the letters that she did. She apologized as I looked at the envelope and told me that she didn’t know any of the rest of our names, but had remembered that I said my son’s name was Cooper. I thought it was such a touching gesture. More so as we talked on….
She went on to tell me that she’d taken in E and his older sister and that since she wasn’t used to having children around, they knew no other kids. She told me that they don’t have any toys except some baby toys someone had given them, because she lives only on social security disability and has to pay rent. They live with her brother. She said she feels awful because little E is so bored at home with her all day that they took a chance that we’d be around and let him hang out at our house for awhile. It was heartbreaking to hear.
We chatted a little more and then I noticed the time and I told her that as much as I’d love to let E stay and play with Cooper longer, I really needed to start getting him ready for school. They looked like they didn’t want to go, but we had to adhere to our schedule so I began walking them to the door and getting their coats for them. As I did, Cooper, who hears everything even when you think he’s not listening, walked over to E and said “Hey E., listen…I’ll make a deal with you. Since you like my Spiderman laptop so much, why don’t you take it home with you, okay? Then, next time you come back, just bring it back with you. And actually, since you don’t have any toys, you can have some of mine. Why don’t you take this rubber dinosaur with you, too? I think he’s pretty cool.” My eyes welled up as little E clutched the laptop to his chest. His grandma appeared anxious and said “oh my gosh, do you have a bag we can carry it in? I’m so worried if we drop it or break it walking home, we really can’t replace something like this.” I told her that it’s just a toy and we’re not worried about it at all, as I handed her a Target bag. She then told E to give her the dinosaur too so she could put it in the bag and he quietly shook his head “no” as he held the dinosaur to his chest and zipped his jacket around it so he could keep it next to him as they walked home.
I cannot put in to words what I felt for my boy in that moment. It had nothing to do with him accomplishing anything or winning anything….it was Cooper being Cooper and showing that boy such kindness. I was overflowing with pride in my son for just being my son. I’m not sure there’s anything that he could actually “do” that could be better than that.
I saw lots of folks writing daily “thankful” notes during the month of November. I didn’t participate because I scarcely had free moments, but I can sum up an entire month’s worth of daily thanks in that moment when I saw Cooper give his own toys away without batting an eye. I am thankful for my boy. I also told you that I was going to tell you a Christmas story that isn’t really a Christmas story, didn’t I? Well, this doesn’t have to do with mangers or stars or trees, but it does have to do with a gift. I’m not talking about the gift that Cooper gave to that neighbor boy, I’m talking about the gift that I’ve been given….5 1/2 years ago, to be exact.