As I stand at the school doors each day, welcoming children — including younger not-yet-ready-for–school siblings — parents, teachers, dogs, staff, bus matrons, and others, I see so much that is taking place in the street and on the sidewalk. Passersby making their way to the subway, pedestrians walking to their jobs, honking horns, buses and parents in cars dropping off children, loud street sweepers, squeeling sanitation truck brakes, and fancy cars with jacked music all pass in front of me.
From about 50 yards away, I try to get a bead on people who I know will be entering the school — you know, those who turn at the corner or those walking the long stretch of sidewalk from the F Train station that is beyond my sight. Seeing folks before they reach the doors gives me a chance to access names for a friendly good morning greeting.
Some people arrive in strollers, on bicycles, scooters, or skateboards, buses, and cars. All it takes is one parent trying to phenagle a stroller through the front doors or a child who insists on riding his bike up to the school, through the doors, and into the stroller room to cause a traffic jam that backs everybody up in front inviting conversation and warm exchanges.
The other morning, I noticed three-year old Sam with his mother and father approaching the school. I could tell that Dad was about to break away to make his way to work, and as he leaned over to give Sam a kiss, Sam exclaimed, “Family hug. Come on, family hug.” Whereupon, Sam lifted his arms, and Mom and Dad encircled their arms so that they could experience a family hug. Upon releasing each other, Sam grabbed his mother’s hand, Dad turned to walk away, and Sam and Mom walked to the doors. I said to Mom as she approached to walk through the doors, “Love the family hugs! Could you see me after you drop Sam off in his classroom?”
When she returned, I let her know how much I enjoyed their family hug and how it reminded me of what my wife and I would do for our sons as they were growing up. We would hold “Son Appreciation Days” when they were in grade school and high school. We didn’t do it often, but randomly my wife and I would conspire to buy a present for each; prepare one of their favorite meals; and hang a “Son Appreciation Day Banner” by the dinner table. When they came home from school, we would say “Surprise,” and gather for dinner. There was always a part reserved for letting them know how much we appreciated how hard they work and how much we loved them. After dessert we opened presents and went on to our usual evening routines.
I believe it is those random acts of love that are the most meaningful in our lives.
If you have experienced a special RAL, share it in a comment to this post.