Thursday, March 31, 2016

The two young girls at the supermarket

I was doing my weekly shop at Coles recently. It's my usual supermarket of choice, I go there at least twice a fortnight for our groceries so it is a rather mundane task. I am a stickler for routine so I know the aisles like the back of my hand and where all my usual products are so reaching for them is thoughtless. It's usually a peaceful part of my routine because I go alone, I purposefully choose that store because it's not usually busy and I can do the entire process without seeing anyone I know, I don't stop and talk to anyone or make much unnecessary contact with strangers. I just like to get in, get my shopping done and go home; but at the same time it's not a rushed experience either. Just quiet, in contrast to the rest of life being a parent.

This particular trip was no different to any other. I had worked my way right through the store and had two aisles to go before I headed to the checkout. I don't usually make much eye contact with passerbyers. But in the corner of my eye two young school girls up ahead of me, not even facing my direction had caught my eye. They were wearing a high school uniform. I don't know why they stood out to me that day because I don't personally know anyone who attends the local high school these days. But without even a second glance I knew who these girls were. I could feel it. I took a discreet second look to confirm my suspicion and I knew I was definitely right. I know this sounds creepy but as I slowly finished off my grocery shopping completely aware of them and trying not to stare, I just watched them. They were with their Mother, they were quiet as they helped her with the groceries and so totally polite. Beautiful young women.

It was such an emotional experience for me. As weird as this seems... I just wanted to go up and hug the younger of them. But I resisted the urge because that would be completely freakish. They wouldn't remember me. Even their Mother didn't remember me. So I just quietly watched from a distance soaking them up for as long as possible before they loaded their trolley with their groceries at the checkout and left for the carpark.

The young girls were apart of a family who attended the child care center I had my first job as an educator at. Way back in the early days. When I was brand new to the industry. The younger girl was in my room and I cared for her right from when she was a baby through to maybe 3 years old. She was a part of a bigger family and I had a connection with her. Throughout my career as an Educator only a small handful of children really touch you quite this way. I wouldn't call them favourites because it's so different to that. It's a connection. Like a feeling you get that if something awful were to happen you would welcome them into your home without hesitation.

So this totally weird emotional experience I had in the shop that day was, I think a mixture of feelings. Feeling proud of the beautiful polite young women they had become, the feelings of seeing them both for the first time in so so so many years. I guess I never expected to ever see them again, and the fact that I recognised them even though they grew up and changed so much! And that feeling of wanting to go up and hug them but knowing they wouldn't know who I was and not being able to. So, I returned home that day feeling happy, sad, content, so many feelings. Feelings that I need to cherish my own children's childhood because they grow up just so fast! Above all else rewarding, that in some way as a Child Care Educator that I contributed to the people they are today, even if it was just the tiniest contribution but a contribution all the same.

I think it's these tiny encounters throughout life that makes anyone in that industry, child care or education which makes it all feel worth it.