While attending a varsity basketball game, my daughter and a group of her friends sat down next to me. I was a little shocked to have these tweenagers sit in the same vicinity of us parents. I didn’t show my surprise, you know, for fear of looking lame and scaring them away.
In an effort to build my reputation on their coolness meter, I pulled three different packs of gum out of my purse and set them on the bleachers in front of the girls. “Help yourself,” I said.
They looked at me in awe, then at my daughter. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “She always has gum, it’s kind of her thing.”
During a recent trip to the mall I found myself in a store with a long, winding checkout line. I noticed a momma with two young toddlers in a large stroller weave into line several people behind me. The toddlers were clearly over shopping. The air was hot, the line stuck them in between aisles, and both were on the verge of a meltdown. Noticing this, a gentleman in line asked the mom if her kiddos could have a piece of gum, to which she agreed. As he handed one piece to each child, their eyes lit up with excitement and they sat back in their seats to enjoy the juicy treat. Immediately, I saw the mom’s shoulders relax as she thanked the stranger for his kindness.
While others had been glaring at her toddlers for acting, well, like toddlers, this man had come up with an easy solution.
Every Wednesday for the past three years I’ve led my son’s confirmation group. A day for these teens includes pressure from teachers, social challenges, sports practice, friendship drama, parents who are constantly on them about this grade or that chore and more.
Life is an out of control rollercoaster full of peaks and valleys and by the time they get to confirmation they are physically and emotionally checked out. But every Wednesday, without fail, they know I will show up with a variety of gum. And as each one searches for his or her favorite flavor, they are so appreciative that I remembered, that I thought of them, that I care.
In life, it’s sure nice to know someone’s going to be there for us. The momma whose toddlers were seconds from throwing candles across the store, a stranger had her back.
For my girl, if it means she’ll sit with me now and then, I’ll always make sure I have enough gum for her to share. And, showing teens that although much of life unpredictable, there are still things, and people, who they can count on. It’s just gum, or is it?