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I Love My Village

Yesterday was the annual fundraiser at
Maddie’s school: the children all run laps which people
(thanks, grandparents!) have pledged to sponsor. The kids love it
and our fundraising is done for the year. I enjoy going because the
kids run around a track set up on the grass outside of school;
there’s energetic music and a high-octane dj who encourages
the kids and dances along with it. The kids have a great time
boogying around the track with their friends, high-fiving their

And their parents’ friends.

First, a confession: I cry at this
fundraiser. Every year. It is so sweet to me, to see those earnest
little kids running around the track for forty minutes. I see the
friendship cliques and the bullies, but I also see the friends
encouraging each other on, lending a helping hand, cheering for
each other. I just love it.

But the trigger for the waterworks is watching the parents. I stand
with a half-dozen of my friends and we all cheer for our kids. And
for our friends’ kids. And every time I hear a “Good
job, Maddie!” coming from someone who has absolutely no legal
or financial responsibility for my kid, I start sobbing. I’ve
got the best friends, who all know it takes a village to raise a
child. I take pictures for the moms who are at work, and scream for
the kids I only vaguely know by volunteering in the class but who
clearly have no cheering squad of their own. I know that if Maddie
trips and falls on the other side of the track, one of my friends
will be cuddling her before I can even get there. I love this.

All this makes me misty-eyed, but yesterday one of these kids
tipped me over the edge.

A friend of mine had to head out of town for a business meeting, so
when I saw her son line up at the starting line I made sure to snap
some pics of him for my girlfriend, and to cheer extra-loud when he
came around. Early on in the running, I high-fived him and said,
“Good job, kiddo! You’re doing great!”

A friend of his said, “Why is that lady cheering for
you?” and he matter-of-factly replied, “Because my
mom’s out of town and my mom would want her to.”

I love that our kids see our friendship in action, that they know
half a dozen doors they can knock on, no questions asked. They see
it and accept it as normal, and that to me is the coolest thing.

I need a tissue.


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