This morning I got the kids to school right as the bell was about to ring. A number of last minute parents were dropping kids off by the doors, so I pulled over and let my kids out a little ways below the doors. As I pulled back into traffic and began to drive off, I noticed that, while Abe and Daisy (whose classrooms are much farther away than Goldie's) had hurriedly ran in, Goldie was still standing out there.
She was talking to a little girl who was standing with a bike. I assumed it was a girl from her class and that she was waiting to go in with her. Still, knowing she was almost late, I pulled back over and called, "Goldie! Is everything OK?" I was about to then shout for her to hurry into class, but at that moment the small girl with the bike looked up revealing a sadly tear stained little face.
"She doesn't know where to put her bike," Goldie informed me.
I quickly assured the girl she didn't need to worry -- that we would help her find where the bikes go, but just to wait with Goldie while I found somewhere to park. That, and unloading my pajama clad barefoot little ones took a minute, but before long we were with her. She looked so small and so sad. As I reassured her, it occurred to me that I actually had no idea where the bikes went either, and by this point nearly everyone was in the school. Goldie told me she thought they were supposed to be parked behind the school at the edge of the playground. That seemed a ridiculously long way away, but I asked the only other lone lady I could find still out there, and she said that was right.
Anyway, I sent Goldie into class and Penny, Jesse and I walked with the little girl back to the bike racks. I asked her if it was her first day riding her bike all by herself and told her how cool that was -- especially when she told me how much of it was uphill. By the time we got her bike chained in, she seemed mostly happy with only a few tiny tear streaks left on her cheeks. I asked her if she knew how to get to her class from there and asked if she wanted me to come in and talk to her teacher to explain why she was late, but she seemed to think she was fine now.
As we made our way back to our parked car, I suddenly got all choked up and kept almost crying. I don't know why. Like I said, I am sure she was fine and will likely have forgotten about her little moment of trauma before school is even out, but I felt like crying all the same. Maybe it was because I could relate so well. I could see me as that same little girl -- so nervous about something so little. I felt grateful that I had been such a wimpy kid myself so that I could understand perfectly why not knowing where to put your bike would be a reason to cry.
Or maybe it was more because of my own kids. Because I always want to be there for them in case they are sad or worried. Once or twice they have had similar experiences in school, and, even though they turned out alright, I hated to know that they were standing there afraid and bordering on tears and I was just at home -- clueless as to their problem. I remember how nervous Abe was for Kindergarten -- worried about every possible thing. In an effort to help him, we wrote down all of his questions -- what to do if he needed to go to the bathroom, what to do in the lunchroom, how to know recess was over, etc. etc. And Mike took Abe and his list to the teacher.
Still, you can't plan for every eventuality. I pictured that little girl's mom getting her ready for today -- school has been in for a couple weeks, and now her little girl was excited to try and ride her bike there all on her own. She had her helmet on. She'd clearly practiced getting the lock on and off. Maybe even done a practice run to make sure of the route. Everything was all set, only in the excitement, no one had stopped to think about what you do with the bike once you got to school. I can just picture her getting there -- so proud she'd made it, and then the realization that she didn't know what to do now -- and her mom wasn't there to ask. The kids who were running about at the time were nearly all running off into the school now and there she stood -- small and unnoticeable -- not knowing what to do. I don't know why it made me feel so emotional. It just did.
I'm so glad we were running late this morning. Also, I am so proud of this Goldie girl of mine. I would rather my kids be kind than maybe anything else, and it makes me so happy that she noticed this girl who she didn't even know and stopped to check on her. I am certain I would have taken no notice of her if Goldie hadn't stopped.
Some of my kids would never have a situation like this bother them. They'd simply set the bike down and run in to ask a teacher. But maybe that's why it made me feel sad. It was just so small -- so not a big deal, and yet, a very big and scary deal to that one little girl. It reminded me of how tiny and innocent and vulnerable these little people are and it made me cry to think of ever not being there to quickly set such little troubles right.