A lot of things annoy me. I probably have a list somewhere. But at the very top of that list is when people try to one-up another person’s pain and suffering. It typically goes along the lines of:
TIRED MOM: I am pooped. The baby screamed all night, I couldn’t find my keys this morning, and I think l may be coming down with the flu.
ONE-UPPER: I have six months to live.
Sometimes I think one-uppers believe they are putting other people’s problems into perspective and helping them. In all actuality, folks really just need to vent. A simple “there-there” along with a gentle pat on the back are often what’s needed most.
A few years back, I was having a horrible, no-good day when I had to race my kids to pre-hockey, replace a lost pair of skates, and get my car fixed all within a two-hour span. Cursing, muttering, and threatening to drop the children off at a safe-haven, I arrived at the ice arena in the nick of time.
As the boys skated onto the ice, I was met with the warm and dazzling smile of Jack’s kindergarten teacher. Seeing her out of context, I was confused. Did she have a child in ice hockey? Was she lost on the way to a teacher supply store? Was I confusing her with someone else?
Nope. It was her. Ms. S. had driven a half hour to come to Jack’s final day of hockey on “The Big Ice” (versus “The Small Ice” where the little kids typically skate). Jack’s teacher had been listening to my son talk all semester long about this very important day. He invited her to go. He may have also told her his real name was Patrick Kane.
So she came.
This Chicago public school teacher, with a family of her own, took the time to give my five-year-old the memory of a lifetime. I quickly snapped a picture of the two together, and despite Jack’s bulky mouth guard and too-big helmet, you can still see my little guy’s unbridled delight.
Ms. S. was golden in my book from that day on.
And that no-good day turned into one of my favorite days ever.
I was having another bad episode this week when I accidentally ran my husband’s cell phone through the dishwasher. To make amends, I gave him my phone for a few days. Per my usual, I then got lost on the way to my oldest son’s basketball game and without GPS or a phone to call for help, I was fit to be tied.
But yesterday morning, someone else’s problems did actually help put things into perspective.
That wonderful teacher? Her house blew up. Some sort of gas thing.
Thankfully, Ms. S. and her family were unhurt, but the beloved family dog Molly was lost.
With her children nearly grown, my heart broke over the lost drawings of childhood, baby pictures, and locks of hair. Then of course there was the issue of no clothes, no food, and no home to welcome her college students back this Christmas break.
So for Ms. S. and all she has done for thousands of Chicago public school kids over the years, I am sharing information on anyone looking to help the family out this holiday season.
Donations are currently being collected at Beverly Bank & Trust located at the corner of 103
and Western Avenue (773.239.2265) c/o Benefit of the Sheahan Family.
Just as it meant everything to Jack all those years ago, I know how much a little act of kindness can mean for a crumpled spirit. I hope Ms. S. will always know how much she has done to sustain so many.