Friday, September 29, 2006

The woman on the train

While waiting to catch a train from BWI airport to Union Station in Washington, DC, I exchanged a few words with another woman who was waiting for the train. She was a conservatively dressed black woman. Once we boarded the train, I ended up two rows behind her. Another two rows in front of us a young mother with a 10 year old boy was seated. The mother had long blond hair, and a "biker girl" look. The boy was quite excited and moved back and forth between seats. The mother yelled at the boy to sit down. The boy responded with a swear word. The mother replied something to the effect, "Don't you bleep* bleep* talk to me like that you little bleep*."

While listening to their exchange, I thought about how well my children were behaving during our trip. I was feeling rather pleased with myself. The thought crossed my mind, "Lady, if you don't want your kid to swear at you, don't swear at your kid."

At some point during their exchange, the woman with whom I had spoken earlier slipped quietly from her seat and crouched down beside the mother. Soon, both mother and son were quiet. The woman put her arm around the mother and spoke to her so softly I could not her what she said. From my seat a few rows behind them, I could tell that the mother was wiping tears from her face.

The woman then stood. I could her the remark she directed towards the boy, "Remember, you need to be the man now and take care of your mom." The woman then returned to her seat.

The remainder of the trip was quiet. The mother and son got off at the next stop as did I. As I passed the woman's row, I caught her eye. I smiled and nodded in silent salute to her kindness.

I've thought about the Good Samaritan on the train many times since then. I'm impressed not only by what she did, but how she did it. She reached out to someone of a different race and lifestyle and extended compassionate assistance without calling attention to herself. I wonder if anyone but me noticed their exchange.

So, this is my tribute to Good Samaritans everywhere and their deeds of kindness.

As a parent, I'm not sure how you teach this sort of thing. Mainly, I think children learn by example. While a formal lesson could introduce the topic of the Good Samaritan, I'm not sure how you help children (and adults) move from the theoretical to the practical application.

As a homeschooler, I can't just teach the lesson. I have to live it.


Fatcat said...

I wish we could know what she said. I'd like to learn from her wisdom.

Janine Cate said...

Yes, it is hard to imagine what to say when you approach a person in a situation like that.