Sharing Stories in Bits & Bites

Be the helpers…

Everyone will be writing about yesterdays tragedy in Boston, and why not? The fresh, raw pain is on our minds as we go about our daily tasks. In our hearts we pray for those families as we deal with the minutia of our jobs, our kids…the life we live. Just can’t write a funny story today.

Of course I was working on my computer when the news broke, my first connection to the disaster through Twitter. Made me think, that although social media can divide us, de-personalize our connections, there are so many ways it connects us. I made new friends yesterday because of that shared sadness.  A mom, in British Columbia, Canada, sitting home alone crying, watching the news, updating each string of information. Struggling but in touch with countless other moms all over our continent, asking…why?  What is this world going to offer our children?

If there is anything that dragging six children across the globe, or hell…through a grocery store right before dinner, has taught me, It’s that, there are good…no GREAT people everywhere who will help you. Trying to catch a connection in a train station in Rome, we raced along…dad in front…our motley blonde crew, in descending height order behind him, rolling back packs in tow. Me, acting as a caboose.

Approaching a large staircase, the kids, as though performing choreography, stop, push the handle down on their suitcase, pull out the straps, and hoist their bags onto their backs. Seriously, the coolest thing to watch. An insignificant action in itself, but representative of their independence. They. Were. In. Charge. Then, I saw Cay struggling. Her dad was already at the top of the staircase, I wasn’t close enough to help. All I could do was watch, in that creepy-slow-motion-terror kind of way.

A stranger reached down and took her bag out of her hand.

The image of him running away with her or even just the suitcase, already going through my head, I looked up and saw her thanking him at the top. His only reward, her dazzling smile. He was a helper. Listen to Mr. Rogers, the quote from his Mom is the truth, there will always be helpers. I want my kids not only to know that those people exist, I’m doing everything I can to teach them that they ARE the helpers.

We were in Times Square in NYC during a bomb scare. A California restaurant we enjoyed dinner at one night, burnt to the ground the next. We rode in the same Paris underground, where weeks before people had been gassed. Drove through rural areas in Cambodia still possibly littered with land mines. I will never tell them not to go somewhere or not to do something because of what horrible thing may happen, as painfully as I want to protect them.

Their world will be what they make of it. Evil isn’t going anywhere, bad guys are always going to be around the next corner and I’m starting to believe the damn boogeyman is real. It doesn’t really matter. Show them how to be fiercely kind, how to be aggressively hopeful and that although terrifying things will always be there, they can be that person who shares their light in our dark world.

Children…be fearless helpers, the world always needs more of those.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me,

‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ “

Fred Rogers



10 thoughts on “Be the helpers…”

  • And this is exactly why we should be teaching our kids TO talk to strangers, not to assume that all strangers are dangerous. “Stranger danger” has harmed our society, has taught our kids that people they do not know are not to be trusted. Last weekend we were in Vancouver for the weekend, and on a Skytrain adventure, my 9 year old ended up on the train by herself. But she was just fine. Some lovely people saw me gesturing that she should go 1 stop and they got off the train and waited on the platform with her until I arrived. If I had taught her that strangers were out to harm her, she may not have gotten off the train with them, making for a much more stressful story.

    As for Boston, I am always inspired and amazed by the people in our society who run toward danger, like police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors and nurses. Where would be we without selfless people?

  • Thanks Deidre for the words…the parenting inspiration. No matter where we are in the parenting journey we still teach and learn. World events teach and shape us too. I choose to be better for it all. I choose to be the “helper”. XOXO

  • So well stated. I can still vividly remember my car accident. Drunk driver, me stopped in an 81 VW Rabbit, 80km an hour impact….and the flood of people calling 911, leaving their apartments near midnight to help me and track the driver down. In times of crisis, our inner most threads of connection to humanity glow. Just look at the photos of Boston…the civilians helping emergency personnel for no other reason than they shared air space with the fallen.

    I think we have fallen to a ‘mean world syndrome’ where we are so busy being suspicious of our neighbours that we forget to build community and strengthen those threads that connect us.

  • I so admire your ability to put words to ‘paper’! Well said and you are so right – the world certainly does need more helpers!

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