After a recent school field trip, my son said something to me, something so basic and yet profound, that had me thinking that sometimes, all we need to do is show up, caring for the people in our lives.
My son took a field trip to a local farm with his kindergarten classroom, and because he’s in a pre-K through 8th grade school, the preschoolers went along with them. The school is good about teaching responsibility and fostering kindness, and so, my son has a preschool buddy whom he is paired with on occasions such as these. A natural older brother, my son took his job with his preschool buddy quite seriously and told me all about it. Even though the trip was to a farm and they picked pumpkins, went on a hayride, and saw baby bunnies, when he told me about the trip, he mostly told me about his preschool buddy.
Because most kids are dropped off at his school, this was my son’s first time on a school bus. And, I’m assuming it might have been the first time for his preschool buddy, too. He told me that because his little friend was younger and smaller, he put him by the window to ensure he wouldn’t fall out of the seat. He also held his hand the entire time. He explained that, in the event of an accident, he was fully prepared to use his arm as a seatbelt for his preschool buddy.
On the ride home from the farm, his preschool buddy fell asleep and my son gave him his sweatshirt on which to rest his head. I told him how nice he was to his preschool buddy. He looked at me and said, “Mama, I just took care of him because he needed me.” He said it matter-of-factly, like caring for our friends is the most basic thing in the world.
He showed up for his preschool buddy and he took care of him because he simply needed to. He did it without question or consideration for how he, himself, might feel to be sitting by the aisle without a seatbelt because he knew his preschool buddy might find it a bit more daunting.
All too often, we look inward instead of at the people around us; I think we are all guilty of this from time to time. But if we look at the faces of the people around us, we just might see someone who needs us, maybe even more than we need them. How many problems can be avoided or solved if we just show up and care for one another, without question, without expectation?
In the sometimes self-absorbed world we live in, taking care of people can be a blessing, not only to them but to us. My son reminded me of this with his simple statement and the pride in his voice. He felt rewarded for taking care of his friend. He reminded me that we’re all in this together, and generosity of spirit really is our utmost gift back to the world.
This week, I got an email from a very busy friend because she sensed that my week started off a little rocky. She juggles much more than I do, but she took the time to check in on me. It took her less than two minutes to type the email and ultimately, I didn’t require anything of her, but her very simple message meant the world to me. I’m lucky to have people in my life who show they care when I need them, even though their lives are full like mine. And, in return, I try to show up for them. Maybe we miss the mark from time to time, but we do try to show one another that we care.
We all feel bogged down sometimes with our own trials, fears, or insecurities. But being available for someone else might just be the push we need to gain perspective on the beauty in our lives. It doesn’t take very long to send a text to check in on a friend and say you care. It takes just a minute to cut a few flowers from the garden, stick them in a mason jar, and walk around the corner to deliver them to a neighbor who just might need a pick-me-up. Simple, caring gestures to say I’m here for you because you need me. You are my people.
The field trip to the farm provided my son with a lesson it seems that he already knows: we care for people when they need us. We call them our people. We give them our sweatshirts or protect them with our arms. And, I’m thankful that he reminded me of this. After all, we’re all in this together.