In Praise of Helpful Neighbors (part rant, part thanksgiving)
Because we live directly across the street from the "backyard" of LG's school, and because we are "walkers" to school, from time to time the parents of other children will ask if they can drop their kids here in the early morning, just for a short time, so they can walk to school with us. This comes up if a parent has an early meeting, or must catch an early plane or train for work, that sort of thing. LG's school day begins at 8:45, which is relatively late as compared to parents' work schedules. No matter how ill I might be, we get LG to school. Usually I walk her there, a 10-minute hike from our front door to the school's back door. Sometimes, if I'm really not doing well, Jif stays home a little late and walks her. But ALWAYS, when someone has asked me if they can drop their kid at our house, my response is the same, some variation of: We're going to school anyway, so what's one (or two or three) more? And it's true. It might be an hour, during which they hang out and play games or watch TV. Or it might just be 10 minutes, during which they play with Biscuit, but the fact remains, at the appointed time, we're going to school, extra kids or no extra kids, so I cannot begin to imagine saying no to a neighbor who makes such a request.
Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, I need this same kind of help. It used to be a few times a year when I'd have a continuing education event that started early. Now it's more likely to be an early morning doctor's appointment to which Jif is accompanying me. A few weeks back, as we walked to school, we encountered one of LG's very closest friends, Terror*, walking to school with her mom. I thought I might raise the subject with the mom, since we were all walking to school, rather than waiting until I actually had need of such a favor. After small talk, I said to her, "You know, Spacey**, sometimes I have to get out of the house a little earlier, like maybe 8 o'clock. I was wondering, would it be OK, maybe a couple of times a year, if we drop LG at your house for a few minutes before you all leave, and then she walks to school with you?"
I fully expected to hear some version of my standard answer to this question, "Sure, we're going to school anyway . . . "
But you would have thought I'd asked to borrow her Lexus. She looked very anxious and said, "Weeeelllll..." That right there was enough for me to know that I would not leave LG there, even if she did get around to saying it would be OK, but she went on, "it might not be convenient. It's a little hectic at our house sometimes. Gaylord (husband) is so forgetful . . . I just don't know . . . "
So I said, "Oh. OK, then, no big deal . . . " But I thought, "WTF? It's hectic at everybody's house in the morning . . . what does Gaylord forget? That he has kids? Where the school is?"
And that was that.
Today I learned that I can get in to see a doc I need to see, tomorrow morning, but we have to leave by 8 a.m. Our closest friends in the area, and most of LG's closest friends, other than Terror, ride the bus. There are rules against "walkers" being "bussers." In order for her to be dropped at one of those friends' houses, it would mean that those parents would have to drive LG and their own bussers to school. I know some of them would do it, in a minute, but it seems like an imposition, not at all like someone asking me if their kids can tag along when we're walking anyway.
So I called the mom across the street and two doors down, Miss Jen. Her kids are younger than LG, but every time we see them as we walk to and from school, she's very friendly and talkative (but not excessively so), and her kids, red-headed twin girls and a blond baby sis, seem ridiculously happy and clean and nicely dressed all the time, so I called her and left a message. I was relieved I got to leave a message, so I didn't put her on the spot for an answer.
Later on, she left me this message: "I am SO glad you thought of us! The girls are thrilled that LG will be coming over! And we'll be having breakfast about 8, so just let her eat with us, we'll be having cereal and fruit and juice, then we'll walk right out the back gate and we'll make sure she gets there on time . . . this is terrific, no problem at all!" And again, "We'd be HAPPY to have her, I'm glad you called."
I was so excited to tell Jif! "Guess what Jen said! Like a normal person would!"
And he, who pays so very little attention to such things, said, "Not at all like Spacey . . . "
Little things mean so much. Especially with WTF.
*It's really Tara, but if you heard her screeching, you'd call her Terror, too
**It's really Tracy, but . . .
file under: &I'm Just Sayin' . . . . &Family &WTF Disease