Photo: I am thinking about Christmas cards and I took photos of the boys with my good camera last weekend. This is a top contender for being the picture this year. I took 789 photos last weekend and only 10 of them are viable for the card! Lordy. Worth it, though. This one is pretty sweet.
My apologies for not writing yesterday. The Husband was out of town, so it was me and two boys. There was an afternoon playdate, followed by the hustle to get dinner done (and little boys insisting on tortillas instead of rice with their carnitas), and then Boy Scouts immediately after, followed by bed/bath (my least favorite chore of the day). I didn’t get to my computer until 9 and then I had Rector Search stuff to do. I could barely keep my eyes open. Any blog post would have been incomprehensible.
But I do have Quiet Thoughts, so I want to take a little time to write them.
Set against the backdrop of all that happened this week (Major’s illness, my mountains of work, The Husband’s travel, and the boys’ social calendar), our family dealt with a bit of heartbreak this week. The boys’ bus driver, who has been with us for two school years, plus these last few months, had his last day on Friday. He sent a letter home a week ago letting us know. Major, especially, has been distraught ever since.
I’m sure it’s an oddity to some of you: the bus driver? Really? Well, I admit, I’m surprised myself. Many of ya’ll Dear Readers were with me for the entirety of the School Choice saga. I wrote about schools and classes and teachers and programming… while there might have been a few sentences dedicated to my anxiety over that first bus ride, the actual bus driver was a bit of an afterthought. I’ll admit to my blindspot. The bus ride was important to me. The person doing the driving wasn’t much of a factor in my thought process. Like anyone else among us, I sometimes forget to see the people who perform the essential services that make my life possible.
But then came John (name changed for obvious reasons), with his bright smile and happy greeting and his head-to-toe Patriots gear. From the moment he gave Major that high-five on the first day of Kindergarten until his last day on Friday, John has been an essential part of our school experience. He cared about my children. He took them to school and brought them home safely and with a smile. He joked with me about football. We made bets about the Big Game every year. We talked about politics. We lamented about traffic. We gave stink-eyes to bad drivers. We became friends. When Major came off the bus with his letter explaining John’s departure, he was sobbing. “Don’t be mad at me,” John said when he drove away. By the time I got through reading the letter aloud to the boys, I was in tears myself. “It’s hard to say goodbye to our friends,” I said, as I tried to console Major. “But it’s a part of life.”
After getting off the bus yesterday afternoon, Major was inconsolable as John waved goodbye for the last time. I’d given John a card with a Dunks gift card (“Let your first Dunks at your new job be on us! Please think of us! We’ll certainly be missing you!) and my email address (“Please send me your address! We’d like to add you to our Christmas card list and our Kinkling list. I’ll explain Kinklings when I get your email.”) that morning. I held back my tears while I hugged Major close, telling him the words all Mamas say in such circumstances: “I know it’s hard to say goodbye to our friends.” “It’s not really goodbye, but farewell.” “It’s been a wonderful few years with John. We have to remember the wonderful times and now feel sad.” “John wouldn’t want you to cry, dear.”
My Quiet Thoughts are on my pride for Major and on the lesson taught by John. I’m proud of Major because of his capacity to love seemingly anyone. His heart is utterly open and utterly on his sleeve. This is a blessing and a curse, and Lord does it come by it real honest. I will never begrudge him this loving spirit. The risk, of course, is that the people we love fail, or disappoint, or leave. But I’ll never tell him not to do it, because for all the love he gives, he gets double in return. I do, too. Teaching him how to guard and survive are different lessons, important lessons, hard to learn but necessary.
But John’s lesson is the one I’m focused on, because it’s a reinforcement of an idea taught to me when I was a little girl. Let no one be overlooked. Know and respect everyone in the ecosystem. Everyone is important. Everyone’s contribution matters immensely. The small makes room for the big. It echoes and amplifies as it goes up the chain. I’ve written about this a million times: Father’s lecture about everyone being important in the DC area. Everyone is important because everyone is in service: from the person making the coffee to the people taking papers to a lawmaker’s desk. Everyone in DC is important because everyone’s job keeps that important city running. “So you’d better say thank you. And please. And look people in the eye. And respect them for doing their job and doing it well. Every job. Every person in this city is important.”
I remember my first boss here in Boston laughing about this concept. He made a joke about it. “I hear that whenever there is a snow day in Washington and they say ‘essential employees only,’ everyone in DC still shows up at work because they all feel like they’re important.”
As the tagline used to be for the Washington Post: If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.
Major gets it. He gets it in a childish way: this was an adult who showed him loving care, and so he cares in return. I’ll get to use John as a shining example as the boys get older, when they inevitably start putting “just” in front of certain people’s titles: “just” a janitor, “just” a bus driver, “just” a guy at the grocery store. Those jobs matter. Matter of fact, they’re essential. And those people are so important that sometimes we can’t help but stop and sob when they leave our lives.
Thanks be to God for John and people like him: people who do good work with sincere loving care. Work that others don’t do. Work that is essential. Monday’s won’t be the same. Whoever drives up on Monday morning won’t be John but, as I explained to Major after he told me he doesn’t want to ride the bus anymore, they’ll be just as essential. We’ll give them a respectful, sincere chance. It’s the right thing to do.
It’s a chilly day here in Massachusetts. Rain in the morning, a peek of sun in the midday, and now clouds again. If we get to Monday without turning on the heat, it’ll set a new record for us for the longest we’ve held out without turning it on. I’m doing my best, but tonight might be the night. It’s supposed to get down to 43… legit cold. Closed windows and double blankets!? We’ll see if I can stick it out. I should probably bring my plants in…
It’s Saturday. Still plenty of time for wishes. I wish you headspace this weekend, Dear Reader, which seems to be a precious resource right now. I’m not talking about sleep. I’m talking about quiet and alone time. Time away from draining stimulus. Time, likely, away from your phone. Give your heart, head and spirit a little space to breathe this weekend, Dear Reader. Resist the temptation to swim in the shit that is our political climate at the moment (at least for a little while. There will be plenty left when you decide to return). I wish you something cooked low and slow. The weather screams for pot roast! Drink some red wine, create a savory broth, get a good protein that takes forever to cook, and fill your house with all the best smells. I wish you a small, tangible project to do. I’m getting this baby blanket in the hoop, so help me God! I haven’t touched it since basting. Choose a small thing to create this weekend. Is there someone who could use a handmade something in your life? Think about it. I wish you a lingering hug, a kiss on the cheek, and one good compliment. When someone tells you that you look great, or your outfit is awesome, or you haven’t aged a bit… smile and say thanks. Let the warmth come to you this weekend, Dear Reader. And speaking of thank yous, I wish you the opportunity to thank someone in your ecosystem: your barista, your dry cleaner, your administrative assistant, your bus driver… tell the essential people in your life that you see them and that you appreciate them. Let no one be overlooked.
I see you, Dear Reader. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you do: you contribute something to this world. You are seen and you are known and you are loved profoundly. What you do matters. What you contribute echoes in this world. You are essential to the lives of the people you touch. Know this, not just in a shallow way, but way down deep. Let this be just one of many sources of the light that you give, the light that pushes back the darkness in this world. Remember that there are people who use that light for guidance and strength and hope.
Until Monday, take care of yourself, Dear Reader.