What A Village Looks Like

We went out to dinner as a family last night. Aspen (age 3) was true to form. She was being loud. Not throwing a fit. Just laughing or screaming randomly. Our food was on the table. Mel was on one side of the table helping our 8-year-old, Norah, with a summer workbook. Tristan, our 10-year-old was eating quietly. I was next to Aspen, trying to eat spaghetti with one hand, while placing my other hand over Aspen’s mount and saying, “shhhh…”

A woman with greying hair sat at the table behind us. She leaned over and whispered something in Aspen’s ear. Aspen got quiet, obviously nervous. Then the woman smiled up at me, and winked.

The whole time I was like, “Does this woman have the right talk to my child?”

In this moment, when I was struggling to keep her quiet, and sitting right next to my kid, she sure did!

That wonderful woman told Aspen about her cat and her grandkids. She smiled at her with the warmth of someone who had been there. As she and her husband waited for their food, she completely had Aspen’s attention, which gave me a couple wonderful minutes to finish my food.

She told me about how difficult it can be to raise a family. “You will miss all this someday.” Then she laughed, “But I know how frustrating it can be in the moment.”

This is what it means to be a village.

I’m not saying that people have to care for my children while I’m out. Not at all. This wonderful woman didn’t have to do a thing. But she did. She spoke to my child. She didn’t drag her over to her table, or touch her, or anything that crossed a line. She wasn’t rude or judgmental.

In a safe and respectful way, she made our meal out with young children a little easier, and I’m incredibly grateful.

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