11 Sep This is Your Community
When Sam was in kindergarten, his 6-month-old brother Eli was hospitalized for an infectious respiratory virus. We spent several anxious days staying in the hospital room, while juggling work and the needs of an energetic kindergartner. To make matters worse, because Eli was considered “infectious”, Sam was not allowed to go to the children’s play area at the hospital, which only made things more tense. Thankfully Eli recovered, was discharged, and we went about our lives.
The following week, I was at school for Kabbalat Shabbat with the other kindergarten parents. A mother whom I didn’t know very well stepped in front of me, and in a mock-stern tone said “I have a bone to pick with you!” I said something like “um, what?” because I was racking my brain trying to figure out who she was (this was October; we were all just getting know each other) and how I might have inadvertently offended her. But then she said something that I have not forgotten since. She said “This is your community. If you’re having a crisis, you need to tell us! We could have made food for you, or taken Sam for a playdate, or sat with Eli in the hospital so you could have five minutes to yourselves. But if you don’t tell us you need help, we can’t help!” And then she smiled, gave me a big hug, and said “we’re all in this together!”
I was so moved by how she took personal responsibility for being a community, and I thought (then) that that was probably an anomaly. But, nine years later, after we have all watched each others’ children grow up the best of friends; after countless hours volunteering and laughing together; after sharing funny things our kids have done, or commiserating over the rotten things that kids sometimes do, I realize that that sense that we are each responsible for each other, that that thing that I thought was just one mother being outspoken – it turns out that that sense is shared across the school. It really is a community, and people really do rally around each other in the most amazing ways.