We Have Time.

Monday, January 27, 2020

We are undertaking a big home improvement project: we are getting the entire interior of our house painted, with the exception of one room. (Bert's, because we already painted it this summer before he was born.) We decided on Sherwin Williams paint; however, we have been going back and forth on what colors to paint and where to paint each color. Needless to say, we have taken many trips to Lowe's over the past couple of weeks.

Bert and I generally operate on the same schedule every week, doing the same things every Monday, every Tuesday, etc. Usually we stay home on Fridays, but this past Friday we made an exception and went to Lowe's. We most always do these types of trips as a family, but Bert and I decided to make a little trip there together Friday to get some samples of paint colors that Joe and I might use to paint a little alcove in our bedroom. Friday was a rainy day, not particularly cold, but very wet. After Bert's morning nap I fed him, and then we got in the car to head to Lowe's.

By nature, I am not big on small talk. For whatever reason, I find it difficult to figure out what to say and how to politely excuse myself from the conversation so that I can move on. I am a friendly person, I think, but small talk just is rough for me.

Bert, who was awake, and I stood in the paint section for a while, deciding on a few colors we wanted samples of. When we were ready, we pressed the button for assistance, and a man named Alexander showed up. His name tag stated he was a veteran, and I guessed that he was maybe in his early 60s. After I placed our order with Alexander, he looked down at Bert and began asking me about him. First, of course, he asked me what his name was, and I said, "Bert." Alexander said, "B-U-R-T?" And I said, no, B-E and that his name was Robert but he is called Bert. I mentioned Bert was growing two teeth, and Alexander asked me if he was around 9 months old. I laughed and said no, he's just big, and that he's not quite 6 months old yet. Alexander told me he had a couple of grown children, and he also said hello to Bert and talked to him a bit too. Then Alexander told us it would be about 7 minutes, so Bert and I wandered off to get paint brushes and look around.

We got back to the counter about 10 minutes later, where Alexander was finishing up. He began talking to me about our paint color choices, asking what we were painting and what color Bert's room would be. After a few minutes of conversation, I admittedly began to get antsy because Bert was starting to get a little fussy and my small talk quota was getting full. However, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that Bert and I, well, we have time. Bert and I are not in a rush to get back to work from our lunch break or do 12 more errands. We are just a mom and baby out in the mid-afternoon on a Friday picking up paint samples. We were not expected anywhere. Bert and I had time that day to talk with a fellow human and get to know someone new. We had time to smile at someone and hopefully help brighten his day while he brightened ours too.

As Alexander brought our samples over (four in total), I noticed he had laid five paint stirring sticks out. That mystery was soon solved, however, because after Alexander packed up our samples, he told me he was giving me four paint stirring sticks and then one for little Bert too. As he flipped the fifth one over, I saw that Alexander had taken a few minutes of his time to design a sweet little paint stick with Bert's name and age. I realized that was why Alexander had checked the spelling of his name. It was because he knew from the outset that he was going to do something kind for my son. I thanked Alexander profusely for being so thoughtful, and I showed Bert his gift and told him we'd have to put it in his room. As we said goodbye and walked away, Alexander said, "God bless you!"

I smiled the rest of the afternoon thinking about a stranger's kindness to me and to Bert. I was so glad we had decided to take the extra time to slow things down that day and talk to someone. Moreover, I am so grateful that Bert has had several opportunities in his few months of life to experience kindness from strangers who do things for him for no other reason than just to be nice. What a wonderful example for Bert! It also brings me joy to see how Bert can bring other people joy. He is just a baby so he can't compliment people or do good deeds, but from what I can tell, most people really love looking at babies, and I am happy Bert has the opportunity right now to bring others joy simply by showing up.

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