for a message from a neighbor.
Many, many afternoons after I pick up Dido from school, or, in the case of what we'll kindly call our summer "schedule", retrieve both kids from their two-day-per-week day camp, we stop on the way home at a place we call the General Store. It is not actually named General Store, and the lovely couple who run it are not actually named, as I tend to refer to them (mostly to clarify for the H, who can barely remember my name, let alone two names of two men he's only met once) General Store J----n and General Store H---. My children adore this place. It closes early most days, and we nearly race there (we would drive faster if I were not living in fear of speeding tickets in two states) to get there before closing time. Mostly, the kids like it because there, I let them choose snacks I typically ban: Doritos, crappy ice cream sandwiches, even an occasional soda. The store doesn't have a huge selection of healthy snacks (though they're adding some, as one of the guys proudly and sweetly pointed out to me the other week) and sometimes, I think a little junk food at the end of a long day is just fine. But I think the kids also like it because they feel a connection to it: it's near our home; the owners treat them with love and respect; they feel both empowered and safe there.
Yesterday, we got to the front door about 3 minutes after closing, but the guys were sitting up front apparently having a meeting and, as ever, graciously, sweetly accomodated us. Instead of sitting inside where the Babe could smear ice cream sandwich goo over every (just cleaned) surface, we moved to the front porch, where we were joined a few minutes later by an even-later, post-closing patron; he'd missed lunch and purchased some salads to down before heading off--wherever. His pickup was parked at a rakish angle to the front door--he too had raced in, hoping not to be disappointed.
He was probably in his fifties, and gracious about my kids racing back and forth on the porch as he tried to eat and relax. The kids were being pretty good, but arguing about sharing their treats, and highly resistant to my suggestion that they simply sit down. He watched me for a bit, as I attempted negotiation and occasionally sighed; he made a comment about his own daughters, now teenagers, and then said, very simply, "You know, don't you, how rich you are?"
Often, I forget. Thanks to the stranger from North Hillsdale for the reminder.