File this one under, 'you never know someones story.'
Think for a moment, of the craziness that is the morning routine. Add to that the struggle with the reality of a hotter than normal October. A reluctant embrace of temps that linger in the 80's. Because no one really plans on shaving their legs in October, from the knees down, for the sake of capri's or holding off sweaters and boots, for the sake of tank tops and flip flops. Privileged problems, indeed.
Problems like, 'just how many pumpkin lattes will I have to drink to get myself into a fall mood?'
October can be a busy and expensive. Just ask my checkbook. There you will find proof of payment for school pictures, hockey registration, hockey equipment, hockey tape, spirit wear, hockey jerseys, volleyball knee pads, sports bras, something else for hockey, and Gatorade by the case. Their father and I fake-complaining about the endless after- school carpools, schedule juggling and shower schedule. (as if we have anything better to do with our evenings)
All of this, I remind him, will be over before we know it.
So, it is completely understandable, in all of this October craziness, that the last thing I needed dropped on my full plate was a request from my son, for book fair money.
'I don't have it', I explained as we rushed out of the house to school. 'And besides, you have plenty of books, why don't you get cracking on that complete Harry Potter set you got for your birthday?' He gave me his best ' you don't get it' look. When you're in fifth grade, it's not so much about buying a book, as it is about just buying something. Anything. Being included. Taking that long, lazy walk down the hall to do something out of the ordinary. A break from routine.
Squashed by guilt, I rummaged through my purse, finding only cough drop wrappers and wallet lint. 'I have these', he said, holding up the two quarters he had found in the sofa, earlier that morning. He gave them a reluctant shove into his pocket and stared out the window.The rest of our school commute was quiet. Another guilt- filled drive to school. Me, being the mom, who didn't have money for her son to take to the book fair. He, being the deprived boy. My mind flashed ahead 20 years, to my grown-up, suit- clad son, on Oprah's couch (oh yes, she's still doing her thing 20 years from now), documenting his rise to fame. A tear appearing in his eye as her recalls traumatic moments from his childhood, the 50 cents for book fair money, sticking out the most.
Six hours later, I had forgotten all about the book fair, and the money, but of course hanging on to the guilt, because that's what moms will do.
He climbed into the van, and I greeted him with the usual, 'How was your day?'
'I got an eraser.' was his response.
'I bought an eraser at the book fair.'
Problem solved, I thought.
'I bought an eraser with my 50 cents, and I heard someone say something when I did. One of the helpers said 'from now on, the kids are only allowed to buy books.'
How could she?
How could she say that about this child, my child, who spent his morning digging through the couch cash just to be included in the book fair?
How could she know his story?
How could she know how invaluable he felt after such a small purchase?
How could she? How could anyone?
Because no one ever really knows another person's story, no matter how obvious we think it is. Even worse? letting them hear your assumption.