I didn’t ask the little boy to come up to me. I didn’t even smile his way.
But he did come up to me. He wasn’t shy at all, and he even smiled as he asked me to push him on a swing.
“Is your mom around?” I asked him, hesitating. It’s not that I didn’t want to be friendly, but I wasn’t sure about this. We live in the country, and I have no idea what the unwritten rules are for pushing a strange kid on a swing.
“No. Hannah’s here.”
He was undeterred. I looked at my mom friend, who lived in the neighborhood, and she shrugged.
I shrugged back and figured it would be OK.
I lifted him up and put him in the swing. I started pushing him and turned back to my friend.
Apparently he wanted me to talk to him too.
But when I turned to him, I saw, instead, a new face by the last remaining swing.
“Push me too!” the new guy said, holding up his arms.
I didn’t even ask him about his adults. I just put him in the swing.
And they did, in fact, want me to talk with them. We talked about why living in a pineapple on the bottom of the sea might be uncomfortable, how big sharks get, and a few other important items I have since forgotten.
When the babysitter came to retrieve Boy 1 and the mom (or was she an aunt?) came to get Boy 2, I smiled. They smiled back, and didn’t seem to mind at all that some strange woman was pushing a blonde girl and their boys. In fact, they thanked me.
I can’t help but laugh. Never once did I ever picture myself as that mom. You know, the one with the gaggle of kids around her, some of them hers but most of them not. I never thought of myself as a magnet for people under age five or as attractive to the preschool set.
That day, at the playground, I had a glimpse, once again, at the many ways the gift of motherhood has made me a better person.
Next time, I only hope that I’m on swing duty so I can have some more of those enticing conversations!
Copyright 2009 Sarah Reinhard