Back in September we signed up for parent teacher conference slots. I picked Monday at 8 AM for Mariyah, I usually have Mondays off, so that seemed like a reasonable option at the time. Naturally (since this seems to be the way life goes), as the conference approached I realized I didn’t have this particular Monday off. Rob and I quickly came up with a plan. He would bike to work, so that I could drive Violet to the babysitters, drive the older kids to school, have Mariyah’s conference, drive home and park the car, and then take the subway to work. Fool proof. Until this morning.
Like most of our plans, we realized as Rob was about to walk out the door, that this wouldn’t work. Monday afternoon is our day to drive the school carpool home, and Rob wouldn’t have time to bike to our house, get the car, and make it back to school in time for pickup.
Our new on the spot 6:45AM plan, was for him to take the car and Violet to daycare, and me to leave early and walk the kids to school. Their school is a bit over a mile from our house, and since we live in the city they are pretty used to walking. But I needed to wake them up early so we could leave early, which is never fun for anyone, especially when you aren’t expecting it.
To get everyone out the door quicker, I
bribed offered a stop at the bagel shop along the way. I figured this would save us time, as they could eat their bagels at school while I had my conference. The idea worked like a charm and we all headed down the street with a strut in our step because bagels. And coffee.
I hadn’t considered the amount of stuff we would be carrying, and didn’t properly gage the amount of time we would need to walk. Both the kids had huge backpacks. James also had his saxophone case and his binder in hand, since neither one fit in his backpack. I kept trying to hurry everyone along so that we wouldn’t be late. The kids were hungry and dying to take just one little bite of their bagel, which I wouldn’t allow on account of the fact it would add an extra 30 seconds to the trip. My hot coffee kept sloshing all over my cold hands, and I was accidentally knocked in the knees by a saxophone more times than I can count.
Our hurrying paid off, we ended up arriving at school feeling a bit stressed, but on time. Unfortunately, the parent ahead of me for conferences ended up running over. So even after all that effort, by the time my conference ended, I was running late again.
If you’ve skimmed the top section all you need to know so far is this: It was a really rushed morning. Because life.
I alternated sprinting and power walking to the subway (all the while regretting indulging in so many helpings of pie over the passed few days). That helped make up for some lost time and by the time I got to the subway station I was back on schedule. I was also feeling a little exhausted from all the rushing and saxophone carrying. Because after that many knocks in the knee, I’m sure you all know who ended up holding that thing for the majority of the walk.
I could see a subway car approaching from the turnstile, and swiped my card ready to run down and catch it. Expired.
The line behind me to refill cards stretched out of view. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who ran out of swipes over the holiday weekend. Just as I was about to resign myself to the fact that I would definitely be late for work, someone exiting the turnstile offered me a swipe on their card. “Happy holidays!” He said with a grin and then hurried off on his way. I ran down the stairs and hopped on my train, just as the doors closed.
I thought about that man my whole ride to work. Such a simple little act, yet it really changed the course of my day. I went from going to be late, to going to be on time. Rushed to relaxed. I’ve heard that Monday morning will set the tone for your week, and I felt as if that man had just hit the reset button for me.
But it wasn’t just that I arrived on time because of him. It was also that little reminder that even when everything seems to be going wrong, something can still go right. Sometimes (a lot of times), in life we really need that reminder.
Of course, he had no idea what his simple act of kindness did. He went on about his day, having no idea how positively he effected mine. And that’s the thing about these little acts. Sometimes they really do have huge effects, but when we are the one performing them, we don’t always see it.
I’ve had a few friends tell me that instead of doing an advent calendar, they do a kindness calendar. With each day counting down to Christmas, they perform one simple act of kindness. Guys, I love this idea. The kids and I started to set up our Christmas decorations yesterday, and the advent calendar is sitting on the piano with the old “fill me up” look on it’s face. Tonight I am going to fill it with ideas. I hope as a family we can brighten someone’s day the way that man brightened mine.
(I also hope I’m not biting off more than I can chew. That elf is sitting in the closet patiently awaiting it’s placement in the living room).