Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Little Reminder

The day before Halloween, my son's class had a day-long Halloween party. The teacher told the kids they could dress up, and the parents were sent an email reminder the night before. When I dropped off my son T at school in his storm trooper outfit, he was greeted by an Iron Man, Elsa, a unicorn fairy, a baseball player, and a host of other luminaries in miniature sizes.

After some effort, I huddled his class together to take some group photos. The little ones were giggling and squealing at each other, the way six-year-olds do. I took a few photos before the kids ran off to chase each other around the playground.

As I turned around to grab my three-year old daughter to make my way out, I noticed one of the girls from his class. She was sitting by herself on the bench, her shoulders hunched, heaving up and down, her hands cupping her face, and her eyes flooded with tears. I knelt down to ask her what was wrong, and she stammered through her sobs that she didn't have a costume. No one else saw her except for another mom standing nearby. We met eyes, and I knew she felt as heart-broken for this little girl as I did.

I grabbed my daughter to get her to her school in time for her party. As I scurried toward the car with my daughter in my arms, I could not get little Diana out of my head. I wondered what her parents were like. I had met a lot of other parents in the class, but not hers. I wondered if they were one of the two parents who didn't have an email address. I also wondered if they worked long hours and whether the family celebrated Halloween.

I had about twenty minutes to get my daughter to her school. As I buckled her in, I ran through the list of stores in the area and realized that CVS would be open. Surely, they sold costumes even if the choices were limited. I did the calculation in my head. If I drove to CVS, that would take five minutes. And if I carried S and didn't let her roam in the store, maybe we could be out of there in five minutes. That gave me ten minutes to drive back to the elementary school, drop off the costume, and then drive my daughter to her school. I was so used to rushing with the kids in the morning that I had to remind myself that being late to preschool was okay.

As I was driving toward CVS, I saw the Halloween store that we had just visited a couple of days ago. I knew they had an array of costumes. At the red light, I called the store to see if they were open. A young lady answered and said the store wouldn't be open for another 20 minutes. I pleaded with her and asked if she could make an exception for me. She got off the phone to talk to her manager and finally came back to say that she would let us in.

I u-turned the car, and parked as close as I could to the store entrance. I grabbed S out of her seat, and said, "Let's go get Diana a costume!"

She was so excited. She said, "Yeah, Mom! We can give it to her and say, 'Diana, this is for you!'" 

We rushed down the aisles looking for the kids' section. We finally found the row of little girl dresses. I grabbed the first poofy dress that looked about her size, plunked down my credit card, and thanked the cashier profusely. Then it was back to school.

I parked again, grabbed S out, and then we sprinted toward the school, the Cinderella dress blowing in my hand. We signed in at the front desk and rushed out to the playground where the kids were still gathered for their costume parade. I found one of the parents from the class and practically threw the dress at her.

"This is for Diana! Gotta go!"

S and I ran back to our car and rushed to her school. We were just ten minutes late.

Later, one of the moms who was volunteering in T's class texted me to say that Diana was thrilled with her costume.

The day after, at our friends' Halloween party, I recounted the events. My friend's dad, who was listening quietly, started nodding along. His eyes softened as he said, "She'll remember that when she's grown up."

When I dismissed his comment with a retort that she's only six-years-old, he said, "No, I know because I was one of those kids. And I remember every time someone did something nice for me."

Maybe she'll remember or maybe she won't. But I'll remember it -- as the day I played the role of the fairy godmother and how magical it felt.


  1. She will absolutely remember this (and even the smallest gesture can have a lot of impact in someone's life)!

  2. That's fantastic that you not only thought of acting, but actually did it. There are plenty of good reasons you could have used to not act - don't want to be late, don't want to offend parents, maybe you won't find something in time - but you were inspired to act, and did! I'm sure the girl was thrilled. And you've reminded me that thinking and acting are two different things. And when you're inspired to do something good, sometimes you need to stop making excuses and just do it. Your friend's dad saying that just reaffirms that you did the right thing and it made a difference.