When I walk my daughter to daycare, we cross a busy 4-way residential intersection that is controlled by stop signs. I’m amazed that some people can’t wait seven seconds (yes, you know me, I timed it!) for us to cross and yet others are so respectful they’ll stop a car’s length away. Some smile while others just look inconvenienced. A few others keep their faces averted as if saying, “If I can’t see you, you’re not there” and roll through the stop sign.
But I’m not judging. GOD no, because I’ve done all of this, too.
Last year, I was approaching this busy intersection and I noticed a wee lil’ guy walking to the end of his driveway and then back up to his garage. As we passed I said, “Hi!” and he ran to the garage, looked back and said to me, “I’m waiting for my daddy.” I scanned the area and didn’t see anyone, not even a guardian. I kept walking but something didn’t feel right. My ‘spidey sense’ was tingling. I looked over my shoulder. No adult in sight and the sweet little guy (maybe 3?) was at the end of the driveway again. I kept walking; after all, I had to get my daughter to daycare. But something stopped me and I turned around and crossed that dang busy intersection again.
As I approached, he ran to his garage and looked at me with a side long glance. I said, “Honey. Is your daddy coming?” And he said yes. Then I asked where his mommy was and he shrugged his shoulders. Ok, in for a penny in for a pound. I, with my new born in her stroller, began walking up his driveway. I asked him if we should go look for his mommy together. His face split into a huge, relieved smile and he said yes. At that point he was no longer leery of me but giddily ran ahead of me while excitedly asking me about my baby.
We reached his front door and I noticed that it was open a bit as if this precocious pre-schooler had let himself out. I rang the bell and soon mommy came to the door. She was trying to take the situation in when I said, “I found this little guy at the end of the driveway. He said he was waiting for his daddy.”
She blinked and instinctively looked towards the busy road. I could tell by her wide eyes that she was calculating what could have happened. She instantly dropped to her knees, embraced her son, cradling him and saying his name over and over and over again. She looked up at me with eyes that were so full of thankfulness that the memory brings tears to my eyes two years later. She thanked me and I reddened and sputtered, “Oh, you’re welcome. I have a wee one, too and I would want someone to do the same thing if she pulled a Houdini.”
As I was leaving the drive way, I heard her call out, ‘THANK YOU’ once more.
Now, this whole intervening thingy was very out of character for me. I have been trained to keep my nose out of other people’s business. I most often assume that someone is taking care of the situation and everything will be fine without me being a budinsky.
Another ‘budinsky’ incident happened on an unusually warm January day. Trinity, our 2 month old and I were out for a walk and we noticed two little girls (2 and 4 maybe?) were knocking on a home’s door. The youngest was naked from waist down and was carrying her dolly. The older one was clothed, wearing a light jacket but no shoes. Trinity and I were confused by this but assumed they were at their own home and the parent’s had this under control. We continued walking as I wanted to get home (read: in a rush). But bless Trinity’s not-in-a-rush intuitive heart, he sensed something was wrong and stopped dead in his tracks. I remember him saying, “This is not right. I have to do something.”
A long story short, this wasn’t their home. The oldest child told us their mommy was napping and she thought she knew how to get back to her house. She was a beautiful child who didn’t show any fear and already had a lot of maturity.
After wrapping the half-naked little girl in my coat and an extra blanket of our daughters, I picked her up and we started walking. She was as beautiful as her sister and so innocently sweet. I remember that she smelled of Vaseline and fit nicely in my arms.
When the oldest little girl said, “This is my house!” we rang the doorbell twice and a disheveled and bleary-eyed young mom came to the door. She, too, was trying to assess the situation when Trinity asked, “Are these your girls? We found them 5 houses down.” I watched the emotions cross her face. First there was confusion, followed by acknowledgement and then understanding of what may have happened. Then, her understanding turned to anger, not at us but at her two little innocent girls. She started to chastise them when my husband stepped in and calmly said, “No. No. Please don’t be angry with them or yell at them. This isn’t their fault. Maybe just install a lock on the door?”
We left feeling proud of ourselves for stepping in and helping those two little girls. But I kept wondering, WHAT IF?! What if I/we didn’t stop? What if we minded our own business and assumed everything was fine?? The whole thing bothered me so much that I talked with Susie about it.
Susie, being Susie, said, “People react differently when they are in a hurry versus when they aren’t. It’s human nature. If you perceive you are not rushed, you will feel as if you have the time to help. If you are rushing, you will feel you don’t have time to deal with it.”
Yes. Yes. That makes sense, right?
So now I think of those drivers who are in a rush to get to their destination and feel frustration with the mere seven second delay I’m causing by using the cross-walk. What are THEY missing? What am I missing when I’m in a rush?
Then I think about the ones who aren’t in a rush. Those who can wait the seven seconds. Those that stop and help a child. Those people, like me, may be rewarded by glimpsing a little chubby hand waving to them, a wide, brilliant smile on an innocent face or perhaps, a direct, big blue-eyed gaze that could melt hearts.