If you’re a parent, have you ever really looked at your children? I’m not saying like physically see them, I’m saying monitor their behavior, actions and mannerisms. Lately, I have been focusing on being more present. That means putting the phone away when we are out, truly immersing myself in every single situation, without my phone in my hand and it’s been enjoyable.
This past weekend I took our two youngest girls to Target. Lily completed her first holy communion and had some gift cards and spending money. She informed me that we needed to leave first thing Saturday morning so she could get first dibs, her words not mine. She also informed me that Keira could come, and she would be purchasing a toy for her with her own money.
Me: “Lily I think that’s so sweet, but mommy can get something small for Keira, you treat yourself today.”
Lily: “Mom. Mom, listen to me. I WANT TO DO THIS. She is my little sister and I want to treat her.”
Me: “OK Lily, that’s fine, but let’s keep the limit no more than $20, I want to make sure you get yourself some clothes, yourself a toy and anything else you want.”
Lily: Ok mom, I promise.
Saturday morning was literally a disaster weather wise. Tree branches were everywhere. It was raining, and the wind gusts were terrible. I looked out the window, sighed and said, “Lily, do we have to go today? How about Sunday?”
The look she gave me was a pure “Hell no, Ma!” So, I manned up, put on a hoodie, jeans, sneakers and prepped my disastrous mom bun. We were out the door within 10 minutes, juice boxes and chocolate chip muffins in hand. I got the kids buckled, handed them their snacks and off we went. It was 9:30 a.m., I had two cups of coffee in me, no breakfast, and the caffeine just wasn’t kicking in. During the ride I glanced back and saw Lily holding Keira’s hand while they were singing Taylor Swift songs together, and in that moment I felt warm. The rain didn’t matter anymore, neither did the wind, the ride was well worth witnessing the second I was able to catch.
As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, both girls were giggling with excitement. I parked the car, looked back and told the girls we were going to the clothing aisle first, then we would head to the toys after. There was no argument at all. Hand in hand, we walked through the doors like the three musketeers, ready to concur Target. While walking over to the clothes, Lily saw a sweatshirt on the floor, so she stopped, picked it up, hung it on a hanger and walked on. A few steps later she bent down to pick up some leggings that were laying on the floor and placed them on the table. I thought to myself, I’ve given this child my OCD. But then I heard a tiny voice.
Keira: “Wow Lily, great work! You are a good citizen.”
Lily: “Thanks Keira. Mom, what is a good citizen?”
Me: “Well, it’s someone who does good things for their community and helps others.”
Lily: “Keira, you are a good citizen, too, because you are always kind to others.”
I swear to you I had no idea what was happening. The commentary was hilarious, and it was a definite love fest, but these two were so focused on helping others and being good citizens that the trip became more about organizing the isles and assisting fellow shoppers. As soon as we came close to the toy aisle Lily jumped out with excitement. “Keira! We can get our toys!”
Lily grabbed Keira’s hand and ask Keira what she would like. Keira was staring at Gabby’s Dollhouse and a smaller version of it. She picked up the small dollhouse, then Lily looks at me and says I’m going to get the big one to share with Keira. Keira Would you like the big dollhouse? We can both play with it together! At first, I looked at the price and felt like I should say no, but Lily had decided, and I went along with it. I felt like I had to let her do this.
While we were checking out, Lily eyed up Starbucks and said, now I’m going to treat you, Mom. I was like no dude. I told her I enjoyed the thought, but she was kind enough. So she said OK, but continued to walk to the counter.
Lily to the barista: “Hi! I would like a grilled cheese, small caramel Frappuccino, and a cake pop for my baby sister.”
She handed the barista $15 and received $2 change back. She smiled at the barista and said, “That’s for you! Thanks for working so hard.” I’m not going to lie, my eyes welled up a little. After Lily’s order was complete, I ordered a venti iced coffee with oat milk and while I was waiting for it to be prepared, I heard Keira tell Lily that she was in fact not just a good citizen, but the best big sister ever. I smiled, sipped my coffee and walked us to the car. That drive home from Target was the first time I realized being present is so important; we are paving the way for our children. Those small, tiny gestures are indeed big ones because kindness is what truly matters in this world right now.
Loraine Griffiths is a fifth-generation Hammontonian, graphic designer, wife and mother of three. She can be reached through email at LifeWithLoraine@gmail.com.