Saturday, May 28, 2011

letter to a stranger

Dear Stranger,
As we both stood in the seemingly endless void that is a checkout lane at our local Wal-Mart, surrounded by women with too few clothes, government subsidized shoppers with multiple carts full of junk and old ladies with mountains of coupons & checkbooks in hand- I could tell you were tired. You wore a Perkins name tag, your pony tail was slightly off center and your sneakers showed signs of wear and spills from the shift I gather you just finished. I'm going to guess that the happy birthday Dora gift bag in your cart means your day is far from over and a child's birthday is in your very near future.

It was the sight of your daughter that prompted me to write you this letter. An adorable child of about five or six, her curly hair was expertly sectioned in multiple ponytails, each tied with bright bows selected to match an ironed, correctly sized dress that was cute enough to surely send my mother into hysterics as to why I don't have kids yet. Her white sandals were actually white and also were a proper fit. She spent our time in line asking you questions about how far away her birthday was and if she could have a counting party. While I have never heard of a counting party, her excitement about being able to do it & her want to share it with her friends made me smile.

After your reassurance that she could have a party with number books, she felt confident enough to poke around at the 5 million trinkets & candies that lined the aisles. When something was just far enough out of her reach due to my cart being in the way, she looked up at me and asked politely "Excuse me, ma'am. Can I go here?". I moved the cart out of her way, in shock I just heard excuse me & ma'am in the same sentence from anyone, much less an unprompted child.

She made her selection of a kit-kat bar and turned to you- "Mommy, can I have candy?". While you did tell her no and remind her she was having cake later, she was just as happy to hear you would let her have one of the peaches you were buying when you got in the car. Within a few minutes the two of you were done checking out and on your way to your party.

I just wanted to let you know how impressed I was with you obvious dedication to being a parent to an amazing child. Despite your weariness, you were warm and generous with your her. She was cared for physically even when it meant skimping on your routine. She was going to have a wonderful day, even if it meant you had an exhausting one. Her manners were impeccable and her lack of even a hint of tantrum was appreciated. Your love for her and care for her well being now and later in life is applauded.

So, stranger, thank you for being the kind of parent I wish all parents were. For you I know it must seem like the status quo, but amongst a sea of unruly, unkempt peers- your child shined bright. Happy (belated) Mothers Day! You deserve to be celebrated!

A fellow Wal-Mart shopper

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