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It’s not always as it appears

Submitted by on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 No Comment

When Rita heard the roar of the bus engine and the wheesh of the brakes, her ears perked up. She knows those sounds. They mean it’s time for the first of her boys to come home.

Five minutes later, she was prancing at the front door. Where was Boots? He should have rung the bell by now.

Five minutes after that, still no Boots. I stormed out in search of him.

Let me clarify that I was not afraid that someone had kidnapped him. He’s navigated the terrifying 100 yards between the bus stop and our front door since the second day of school, only once failing to find his way quickly home, and that one time he was up to no good.

The bus driver had written him up because he couldn’t keep his hands to himself – that’s a pattern with him. It was his second offense, and he was trying to avoid the grounding that accompanied the first citation. He crumpled the paper in his hand, crept around the corner and threw the evidence into the garbage before I could see it. At least he’d put it in the recycling can. When I found out the next morning what had happened, he got grounded anyway.

I was convinced that the repeat incident was going to have a repeat outcome, but I forced myself to be calm. I’d hear his explanation, explain why he was wrong again and ground him.

“Where have you been?” I asked as I met Boots on the sidewalk.

“I had to walk D home,” he said. “His mommy wasn’t home, and he didn’t want to be alone.”

As it turned out D’s mommy had been just yards behind him, but for 5-year-olds to make it through the day they often have to focus on routine. Routine equals mommy at the door, not mommy walking down the bike path.

D is a painfully shy 5-year-old – he probably hasn’t said more than a handful of words to me all year even though I see him every morning. I knew how much it must have cost him to screw up the courage to ask Boots to go with him. My heart swelled that Boots didn’t hesitate to step up when a friend asked.

“Babes, that’s great,” I said. “You helped a friend who needed it, and that makes me really proud of you. The next time, though, let me know so I won’t worry about you.”

A few days later, Rita heard the roar of the engine followed by the wheesh of the breaks. She rushed to the front door, where a breathless Boots reported that D needed someone to walk home with.

“Go ahead, babes,” I said. “Thanks for telling me! Just remember to look both ways.”

As I watched the two tiny kindergarteners cross the street, I was doubly proud of both of them. D for not being afraid to ask for help, and Boots for doing the right thing by his friend and the responsible thing for his mom.

Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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