So there I am, near the entrance to the Calgary Zoo (one of the busiest zoos in the country, I might add) with a 20 month old in the stroller and my 3.5 year old son, lying on the ground, screaming and grabbing on to my legs. He was thrashing around so much that I couldn't hold him and push the stroller at the same time without fear of him ending up on the concrete. I just stood there, trying to figure out how I was going to get out of there with at least some semblance of dignity. My only source of comfort came from the fact that he was yelling, "I don't want to go home!" instead of "I hate you Mommy!"
Eventually a woman came over - she looked to be in her late forties and had a boy I assumed to be her teenage son with her - and simply told me, "You take him. I'll push her. Let's go." I asked her if she was sure and she said kindly, "I have four kids. I've been there." We made it to the car. I thanked her profusely and she said it was no trouble at all. I got into the car and wept with relief.
I've been there.
This week the kids are at a different babysitter. Our regular caregiver is on two weeks of well-deserved vacation and I was scrambling up until a couple of weeks ago to make alternate arrangements for the kids. I'd asked a teenager who has babysat the kids for us before if she was available. She had committed to looking after two other boys for the summer, but when her Mom heard about our dilemma she made arrangements with the parents of those boys to have all four kids at their place for the week. She said that she would be around to help her daughter if necessary. I was so grateful that she would go out of her way to help me out like that. When I thanked her for helping me out her response was, "Hey, I've been there right."
I've been there.
When I read about Make Jen's Day, I think about how it started when she heard about someone in need and thought, "I've been there. I can help."
And I started to think about how for many parents, the concept of Pay it Forward is put into action every day. We hold open the door for the young Mom with the stroller and preschooler dawdling behind because we've been there. We will happily donate a diaper to the Mom at the park who was caught without because we've been there.
At least, I've been there. The rest of you are probably a lot more organized and prepared than me. But even if we haven't been in that exact situation many parents will help another out because we know that one day we may be the ones in need. Like how last year at the Stampede parade a Dad came over and asked if we had an extra diaper and wipes to use for his daughter because in the rush to get out of the house they'd forgotten theirs at home. I handed over what he needed. And with diapers, you ain't getting them back. (who'd want them?)
Cue a recent summer night at our local park. We had gone out for supper and stopped so the kids could have a quick play. Mia's getting to that stage now where she's almost - thankfully! - out of diapers and I don't think about having extra on hand the same way I did when she was younger. We ran into a girl from Gavin's soccer team who was there with her sister and her Mom, Julie. The kids ran around for awhile and then one of them came running over, yelling, "Mia has poop all over!"
I died a little inside and hoped that it wasn't true, but I was wrong. It was pretty nasty. We don't live too far away from the park and I was just going to walk home with her - wouldn't that have looked awesome? - when Julie offered up a diaper and packet of wipes that she had with her.
You can guess what she said when I thanked her.
Where have you been lately?
You can't be prepared for everything when you're out & about with kids.