“Everyone comes in to your life for a reason.” How many times have you heard that saying?? 10… 20… 100 times or more? I believe I’m the person I am today because of the people I have brushed up against in life… if only for a split second. Everyone you meet and speak to impacts your life in one way or another. Every day… every contact.
At 16 I was hired by the local toy store, Tiny Tots as a part-time sales clerk after school and weekends. Back in those days slacks were not considered appropriate work attire… and therefore I had to wear a skirt and blouse, or dress under my company approved red and white circus striped smock. My job responsibilities were the same as they are in retail today… climbing ladders to stock shelves, un-loading boxes in the back room from pallets, and sweeping the floors. Can you imagine doing that all in a skirt?
My favorite days were working the doll department. Standing behind a glass counter I was in charge of unlocking the cases for a customer to inspect the Madame Alexander dolls (you might associate them with the American Girl dolls of today). I watched closely as mothers of every variety passed through the store.
From harried, stressed out moms yelling at their kids to behave… “Or the mean lady behind the counter will yell at you”, to others imploring their whining and crying children to “Just stop it!!!” At times like this I would do my best to catch the child’s attention, and behind their mother’s back I would cross my eyes and shake my head to make the child giggle.
One evening a mother came quietly up to the counter. Holding her daughter’s hand, both of them smiling, she asked if I would please let them see the Madame Alexander doll with the blonde hair. I unlocked the case and placed the doll into the mother’s hands. She bent down and gingerly handed the doll to her daughter… who lovingly caressed the doll.
“Remember, we are just looking today, not buying. If you decide you like this doll, then when we get home we will add it to the list for Santa. You never know, Santa might leave it under the tree for you on Christmas morning.”
No tears, no tantrums, no whining, kicking, or screaming. It was as simple as that!
The little girl handed me the doll to be placed safely back in the glass cabinet under lock and key… then left the store. That was the entire reason for coming into the store that night. Simply to touch and hold that doll.
I was only a 16-year-old teenager, but I learned that night that THAT was the kind of mom I wanted to be when I grew up. A mom who ‘tunes in’ to her children, a mom who takes the time to ‘be in the moment’.
Time moved on, and I never forgot that lesson. Eventually I became a mom to 3 crazy kids… and as luck would have it a Toys R Us toy store opened up just down the highway.
It was a few weeks before Christmas. My husband was out-of-town on a business trip… again. Looking for something to do with the kids during that awkward ‘dinner time’ I decided a trip to the toy store and dinner out would certainly kill some time. Remembering that sweet loving mother so many years ago… I grabbed some paper and pencils, packed the kids in the car and headed to the store. A new family tradition was born that night.
Driving to the store I explained WHY we were going… we were going to make a wish list for Santa. Each one would have their own list (of course I had to write the list for my littlest), they could put on anything at all. It doesn’t mean they would get it, and we weren’t buying anything at all that night… this was simply a ‘list making’ activity.
At first they didn’t quite ‘get it’. One daughter would write she wanted a specific board game, the other a ‘klacker’ (remember those annoying things?). They were timid, and frugal with their choices. I had to keep explaining there were no limits, their list could be as long as they wished, and the item as big as they wished. Anything goes!! “Put it on the list”, became our mantra for the night.
Eventually it sunk in. As we scoured each aisle, and wrote down the item of their desire, it was becoming more and more fun. They relaxed, they smiled, they wrote, they talked to each other… it was a fabulous family night.
We turned the corner to the bike aisle… and that’s when it really got fun! Battery operated jeeps were on display, with a whopping price tag over $200.00!!! You should have seen my kid’s eyes light up as they realized they could “Put it on the list”!!!
It was such a pleasure to be in a toy store with all three of my kids, and never having to utter the negative word, “No”… not even once. They were well-behaved, laughing, smiling, and most importantly dreaming and wishing… and getting along with each other. Other families looked at us with envy.
I continued the evening’s gaiety by suggesting we go out to dinner. Cheers were heard all around. We went across the street to Friday’s where I made the announcement they could order anything they wanted… even an ice cream sundae instead of a meal. Afterall… it was a magical night (and I figured one night of not eating healthy wouldn’t kill them).
So you see… this wonderful family tradition all became possible because of a 15 minute interaction with a woman and her daughter whom I have never seen again in my life, but never forgot the impression she made on me.
Through friends, family, and brief encounters I have learned…
To have tolerance of others
To live on my own
To drink from cups with my left hand
To eat at the hotel bar when traveling
To enjoy good food
To not believe everything I hear
To enjoy Sunday drives as a passenger
To s-l-o-w d-o-w-n
To speak up
And oh so much more!!
However; it makes me wonder what people have learned from me? How have I impacted the lives of those I interact with each day?
I hope it’s all good.
Of course I couldn’t end this piece without mentioning the song from WICKED… ‘For Good’. Enjoy!