Every mom with small children gets told that just watch out, they’ll be horrible when they’re teenagers. (Why do people DO that? What good do they hope to accomplish?)
I am here to say, my children being in college and grad school now, that teenagers are wonderful and interesting people and I miss having them around keeping me on my toes: they make me think about why I’m doing what I’m doing and how to be better at it. And they themselves get better with each year. It’s very gratifying.
And that message, I like to think, is what this mom was seeing: looking at my son and his interactions with her family on an airplane and then, as she watched him with me, seeing her own small son and daughter’s future progressions.
He was coming home from college for the Christmas break and we were at the baggage claim area. I was at one side, he went to check out the other.
I knew nothing of their having been seated together. I just saw a young mom standing there waiting and waiting, exhausted, her three-year-old clinging to her leg as she was holding a very tired younger toddler who looked on the verge of losing it.
Hey. That’s an easy fix. I opened my purse. I needed two here; I only found one–well, you do what you can. Asking the mom’s permission rather than handing it straight to either kid, I gave her a bright pink intricately-handknit flamingo fingerpuppet for the children to be charmed by, hoping one more thing to hold wouldn’t be too much. With silent thanks to the unknown knitter in Peru. I buy these by the dozens, each one different, for just such moments.
The mom’s face totally lit up.
If you can make Mom happy, everybody gets happier.
My son told me on the way home that those kids had been tired and crying off and on during the flight, and he could sympathize with their wanting to be home and in bed and not understanding why they couldn’t have that yet. They were so cute! End of story. So he’d told her they were, he’d tried to jolly them out of their grumps, and whether they ever see him again or not he’d made friends for life on the spot.
I did not know at the time why she smiled at me as she looked at that fingerpuppet in her hand and then over to my son now on the far side of the conveyor belt; she was affirming–I had utterly no idea yet what.
But her kids were absolutely adorable.