Yesterday morning, after dropping off Robby at school and running a few errands (which unfortunately involved pumping gas in 17 degree temperatures), I came home and settled in front of the wood stove. I had my binders at the ready and was preparing to spend the remainder of the day finishing up some reports and working on a newsletter. All plans were put on hold when I received an unexpected phone call from Robby.
I always become nervous when the caller ID reads Robby's school. Anticipating news that he had become ill or learn that an unexpected visit from Robby Rotten needed to be addressed, I jumped for the phone as soon as I recognized the number. After all, the calls from school almost always herald bad news!
Robby's sweet and chipper voice was on the other end of the line, and I immediately knew that he was neither sick nor in trouble. Instead, he was calling to ask me for a favor. He was concerned because a friend (who is in a different class but shares a recess) was celebrating a birthday and he did not have a treat to share with his class. Robby asked me to bake some cupcakes and bring them to school for his friend. After all, when you are in elementary school, birthday cupcakes reign supreme!
After talking with him for a few minutes he handed the phone to the Principal. She explained that Robby was worried and wanted to help his friend. Hopeful that a phone call would allow him to refocus, they allowed him to call me. I inquired about his friend and learned that his mother was sick. Although she didn't verbalize the diagnosis, the conversation led me to believe that the mom was battling some form of cancer and that the family was overwhelmed. I began to preheat the oven before hanging up the phone.
I knew that time was of the essence and I wanted the child to have the treats to share before everybody started to go home for the day. The frigid air which I cursed while pumping gas worked to my benefit when cooling the cupcakes. I whipped up and decorated two dozen birthday cupcakes in record time!
Covered in batter and icing, I managed to deliver the cupcakes before the second recess began. I gave them to the Principal because I did not want to draw undo attention to the situation. I knew that she would be able to quietly and discretely deliver them to the correct classroom. I did stop by and let Robby know that his request was filled and that his friend had treats to share. He threw his arms around me and whispered, "Thanks for having my back, Momom."
The sincere concern and empathy that Robby demonstrated for his friend warmed my heart. I am the first to admit that we have made our fair share of parenting mistakes. Robby is far from the perfect child, and at times his behavior and habits make me want to pull my hair out. But I am in awe of the intuitive sense of empathy that he has for others. We have done a lot wrong, but while I was baking the cupcakes I was acutely aware that we have also done something very right.