I need to start by saying that this post isn’t so much about adoption other than the way it made me realise again how much we need the support of others at different times in our parenting.
The Gremlin came home from school yesterday evening really excited that the following day the poppy resources for Remembrance Day were going to be taken to her class and would be available for purchase. She wanted me to send her in with £2 as she really wanted a snap band bracelet as that was what most of her friends were intending to get. I probably caused the problem at this point (parenting fail #1) because I told her I was driving so she would need to remind me again either when we got home or definitely before we left for school the following morning. – Seriously though, what parent would put the responsibility of remembering something like that on their 9 year old child? Yes, that would be me and that was probably the reason for all the tears and upset this morning.
We fast forward to today and we are all getting ready for school this morning. She is happily putting on casual sports wear as today is PE today for her. Sproglet then starts to suffer from sensory overload and he complains that his shirt is strangling him today, the tie isn’t fitting properly, his jumper feels sooo weird today and the fact that he is not planning to take a coat with him because it’s heavy to carry despite it being 2 degrees and there being windscreen ice outside on my car.
This is just a typical morning in our house so I carry on getting everyone ready, reminding them to pack their lunchboxes, clean their teeth, put their shoes on and the other countless things required to get us out of the house each day.
We then make it all the way to school, drop off the Sproglet (still without coat) as I decided that this additional battle was not worth it this morning and that he is unlikely to die from hypothermia before we can have a better chat with him later about needing help to keep regulating his body temperature.
I then usually have a leisurely 15 minutes in the car with the Gremlin where we chat about all kinds of things (although boys do seem to be featuring a little bit more at the moment!) At that moment, one of her friends appears up ahead with her mum walking along the road and Gremlin instantly remembers that she needs money to buy her poppy appeal item. It’s probably the right time to mention that unless I am planning to do food shopping on the way home from the school run, I don’t tend to take my purse with me of a morning. (This is perhaps parenting fail #2 so far in this story).
Me and her then do that frantic scrabbling around in all the pockets, bags and storage areas of the car looking for loose change that I know we usually find in abundance whenever I need £1 for a shopping trolley. Only today, we came up empty. There was no change in the car. At this point, I realise that the Gremlin is trying to quietly wipe away tears that have started streaming down her cheeks. I ask her what’s wrong (although in fairness I already knew what was coming – possibly parenting fail #3). At this point the floodgates open and we have full on weeping taking place that she isn’t going to match her friends with their bracelets, her money won’t count in the total the school raise, how is that going to affect the people the old soldiers who need that money from her and so on. I’m now looking for a tissue to wipe up the runny nose, I’m trying to wipe away her tears, I’m trying to offer her comfort and I’m really trying not to bang my head against the steering wheel for not bringing out my purse this morning.
I then have a moment of genius as I see another parent I know pull up in their car. I try to get the Gremlin out of the car and suggest that I go and ask her if she could loan me some money to cover it. Gremlin refuses as this parent belongs to one of her good friends and she doesn’t want her to see her crying with a blotchy face (her words, not mine!) I then leave her in the car while I run across to this parent anyway to see whether she can lend me a couple of pounds. She then laughs and says, I don’t bring a purse on the school run unless I’m going shopping but I did remember at least remember to give my daughter some money. I need to say there was no condemnation from this mum at my poor memory and I was feeling a little bit of solidarity that maybe I wasn’t so weird for not bringing a purse on a school run as there were other parents who did the same. She then kindly started the same mad scrabbling around in her vehicle looking for that loose change but alas, she also came up empty.
I run back to the car and the Gremlin has managed to compose herself enough by this time to face her friend. I give her another hug, reassure her that it’s my fault and maybe there will be another chance tomorrow to buy one. We then walk towards the school but that bottom lip is still wobbly and I can see she is working really hard not to cry. After the short walk we arrive at the school gate with the other mum and her daughter who had just wrecked the inside of their car trying to help us find money. We then join the other girl and her mum who had walked past us and had prompted Gremlin’s memory in the first place. I see Gremlin about to cry so I ask this mum if she knows whether the poppy things will be available tomorrow. I explain the situation at which point, she says I don’t know but I have my purse so I am sure we can find some money in there. At this point she reaches in, pulls out 2 shiny £1 coins and hands them straight to the Gremlin and tells her everything is now fine.
I basically want to hug the woman at this point, but wouldn’t want to freak her or any of the other parents out as the social distancing requirements need to be enforced for obvious reasons. I thank her profusely, promise to pay her back later, hug the Gremlin again and tell her that everything is now ok.
For all the humour I can now see in the retelling of this story, especially two of us who need to restore some order to our cars after many things being strewn everywhere from pulling out glove compartments, side door storage and moving chewing gum containers, I can full reflect and appreciate how sometimes it’s just the little things that can make such a big difference.
I have only been meeting these mums on the school gates each morning since the new arrangements came in to place in September so I can’t even call them friends. However, it was a big reminder that simply being kind, attempting to help others (even if you can’t find any loose change), speaking gentle words, not laughing or joking at someone else’s expense and just being community to other people can change the world for someone so easily. My Gremlin has gone in to school today happy that she can buy her bracelet and match her friends. I do know that she has a sensitive soul and that although the bracelet was her driving desire, she really will want the school to raise a lot of money, she will be proud that in some way she got to contribute towards it and is mature enough to know that ultimately some of our veterans and rehabiliating military will benefit.
As for me I am grateful to be the recipient of kindness today. It was unexpected, it was unmerited, it was undeserved and it was freely given. I now plan to be the mum that does carry a purse of loose change on the school run so that maybe one day I can be that person that shows kindness in the same way to another.
If you are the parent of an adopted child, spend a few minutes remembering the many small things that have made a big difference when someone just demonstrated kindness to you or your child. I always think that it is the small things that create the biggest impression and I know that Gremlin experienced thankfulness, gratitude and joy this morning and saw me model some of that as well. I kind of think that maybe that was a bigger parenting win that more than covers my perceived parenting fails.
Even if you are not the parent of an adopted child and found this post by accident, think about times when people have expressed kindness to you and how it made you feel.
And finally for all of us, could you be that person to someone else? I’m not sure that this parent even understands how big a deal it was to me this morning to be able to wipe tears from my daughters eyes and tell her than we had found a way to fix her problem which was very real to her even if it would seem insignificant to others. We all need someone to show us kindness sometimes, and we are all more than capable of showing kindness to others. I find that this is especially poignant to reflect on during this Covid season of Lockdown 2.0 when people are still trying to stockpile supplies and food preventing others from buying the basics, when people are being placed on furlough or facing redundancy, when people are grieving at the loss of loved ones and separation from seeing family members. Maybe kindness right now is making a phone call, sending a text, dropping off groceries to an elderly neighbour, collecting a prescription for someone who is shielding. Whatever, it is that you see as a need, find a way to meet it for someone today.