I love our village. I am so grateful that we have a circle of friends that are incredibly supportive, listen to us vent, impart our values, and love our children. And I truly appreciate that my children are a bridge to the village of our local black community. That particular village, however, has no hesitation in calling me out for some parenting failure — usually related to my kids’ attire — even as they are quick to let me know how gorgeous my munchkins are.
We have a BOB stroller and an umbrella stroller and we’ve never purchased a rain cover for either of them. The BOB was our primary mode of transport for our eldest when he was a baby, so I’ve had more than one occasion over the last several years to regret not outfitting it with rain gear (although never enough to remedy the situation). Most every time we’re caught in inclement weather, some kind soul points out to me that the baby is going to catch cold (regardless of how many layers I’ve pulled over her chubby arms and legs, or the fact that the rain does not actually spread viruses).
The other day, I ventured out in the rain with Lydia in the umbrella stroller to pick up Teddy from school and then run a couple errands. Clad in a hooded parka, happily munching some goldfish grahams, Teddy waited patiently with me at the corner for the light to change so we could cross. Lydia also was quite content, watching with us the numbers count down. Unfortunately, the crossing guard did not see two happy children; she saw two targets for precipitation-borne illness.
“You need a cover for that stroller!” She informed me, looking meaningfully at my daughter, who was obviously getting drenched and probably already had pneumonia. I didn’t bother telling her that where I come from, this weather didn’t even qualify as rain. We’d likely dismiss it as sprinkling, not even worthy of a rain jacket. I just shrugged my shoulders and acknowledged that I did lack additional weather protection for the umbrella stroller.
Then she turned her attention to Teddy. I was curious what she’d take issue with there since his hood was covering his head. “You should secure that strap, young man,” she said, walking over to Teddy, zipping his jacket to his chin and attaching the Velcro of his hood herself. Teddy, finding himself unable to continue consuming his snack now that his mouth was practically blocked, grimaced, but, sweet boy, didn’t complain. He waited until the kind lady resumed her position to mutter under his breath so only I could hear, “I don’t like it like this, Mommy.” “I know, sweetie,” I whispered back, equally sotto voce. “You just need to keep it that way until we cross the street.”
The light changed, the guard ushered us across, no doubt only half satisfied since she couldn’t provide a blanket to keep the rain off the stroller, and we continued on our way. I incorporated a stop for hot chocolate into our outing, in the hopes of redeeming myself for subjecting my children unprepared to the ravages of Mother Nature.
I was messaging Mike about it later that day, and he wrote, “Gotta love our @#$%& village.” The statement captured my sentiments perfectly. I really do appreciate this village that my children have allowed me access to. I may not always take their unsolicited advice well — in fact, it may make me stew with annoyance for several city blocks — but I’m grateful that they’re willing to cross racial lines to give it. They have my kids’ best interests at heart, and you can never have too many people who do.