I swear to you, meeting that family for exactly 3 minutes changed the way I parent, and the way I interact with children everywhere.
It was a pretty standard Craigslist hand off; the Dad hopped out of the car, I showed him the cushions, and he gave me some cash.
As the Dad was loading up their goods, the Mom suddenly popped out of the front seat and said, "She has to pee, we gotta go in..."
I watched as she started unloading her daughters... one toddler, one baby.
I immediately, being the Mom of a baby myself, got over excited (like I do) and squealed:
"Aww!! She's so cute! How old is your baby!?"
With a purposeful voice, she emphasized each individual child's age to me as she said:
"This one (touching the toddler's head) is 3, and this one (touching the baby's head) is ten months."
Now I hadn't asked about the toddler's age, but the way the woman said it let me know that I should have.
She looked very hard into my eyes as she told me their ages, and I knew that it was important to her that I acknowledge both children... and so I did.
I congratulated the 3 year old on being a big girl and using the potty...she smiled, and then ran inside with her mother.
It was only a brief moment... but it has stuck with me for years.
The way that 3 year old girl put her head down and looked at the ground when I asked about the baby burnt a hole in my brain, I swear it did.
Now that I have my own two children, I try very hard to make sure everyone gets the same amount of hugs, kisses, tickles...everything equal... all the time.
You'll notice if you go back through my blog, I try to make sure everyone gets the same amount of posts, there are never too many about one child versus the other.
It's silly, but it's important to me.
I am not sure how long I will pay such close attention to both kids getting the same of everything, but I hope it is forever.
With Girlfriend walking and talking up a storm these days, it is only natural for people to go to her first, instead of Lovebug.
I mean, come on... she is cute.
But so is he.
I can see him starting to act out to get attention... to be a little sillier slash more annoying so people will just turn their head and talk to him too.
I hate when this happens, and thinks it's a poor representation of the sweet funny child that I know so well.
I wish I could walk into a room and say:
"Play with them both... it's important..they love to be together anyway.." and not have people think I'm a bitchy control freak.
If I'm going to be completely honest.. I'd rather you talk to neither of my children, than only talk to one of them.
You see, because our children are the very best of friends...
It is that much harder when one gets something that the other doesn't... the feeling of exclusion is written clear as day on their faces...
They are very much two peas in a pod, and I know it hurts them when they are treated differently.
I know that other parents have this problem too... not just ones with a toddler and a baby:
Maybe you can relate if you have one child with special needs, and one without... or one child with excellent social skills who is super funny, and one who is a little more reserved and creative.
Maybe you have 4 children, and one of them is ridiculously good looking.. like I was in my family... (just kidding siblings.)
You get the idea...
Something as simple as sharing the love with everyone, all the time, was something that honestly hadn't occurred to me until that day at Burger King.
I had a one track mind... baby, baby, baby.
I felt a connection to others with a baby my child's age, and that's where my mind stopped.
I am grateful to that woman, for the look in her eye, and the tone in her voice...for asking me to look past her chubby adorable baby, to her also adorable 3 year old...
I only met that woman for 30 seconds, but I instantly knew how important her children were to her;
I knew she would fight for her kids to get equal attention, equal billing time, equal everything... in order to keep them happy.
I can only hope that people feel the same way when they meet me.
Dear Craigslist lady, if you're out there: You changed the way I look at children, and the way I parent. It is my hope that by passing on your message, I can too.