I was shopping with 2 of my 3 kids last week. I approached the bus I drive around town (my 8-passenger mini-van that rivals my first apartment in square footage) with my shopping cart. Kid #1: loaded in. As I was loading kid #2, I heard a man's voice.
"Are all of your groceries going into your trunk?"
"Okay. Let me help you out."
This man, this stranger, proceeded to unload my items into the back of my van while I continued to strap my youngest child into his car seat. I was not sure what was happening. I was not sure what to do. Was this a kind man, who saw a mom, out in the freezing cold, with 2 kids and cart full of groceries, and just wanted to help? Or was he a thief about to steal our food? Or was this a crazed lunatic about to climb into my van and carjack us all?
In the end, it was guy #1. He loaded my groceries and shut my trunk. As he was walking away with my cart, I said, "Thank you, Sir."
He replied, "You're welcome. I remember years ago when my kids were young. I remember how hard it can be."
I felt terrible for thinking he COULD be anyone but guy #1. BUT my babies are with me. It is my job to protect them and to protect myself. I am saddened by the truths of our world that caused me to be anything but appreciative. Because before I was appreciative, for about 30 seconds, I was afraid. Was I irresponsible for letting a stranger get so close to my kids? What message did I just send them? Is it okay to let strangers help us? What if I had said, "No thank you" to the kind man? Or worse, "Get away from my car!" What impact would that have had on my 4 and 1-year old?
It truly was just a thoughtful man helping another parent on a cold day. I drove away from the store, thankful for his kindness. Thankful that my kids saw kindness. And hopeful that anytime they see a "stranger", in the future, he will be kind as well.