I listened to his mother call his name close to a thousand times.
When he finally sat next to me, he saw my Batman keychain and he touched. Immediately his mother told him not to touch it, that it was mine. I didn't respond to her.
I introduced myself to Anthony and held a conversation with him. He told me he had pizza for lunch, but he didn't make a mess. He told me he likes Spider-Man and Peter Parker. He told me his car was parked far and that he didn't drive, his mom did. And finally, he told me that he was going to Cindy's house with Nana tonight for pizza.
I gave him a pound because he knew who Peter Parker was and he blew it up.
When I had to leave, I thanked him for his time and shook his hand again. I was happy to have talked with him.
Anthony is 3.
This exchange went down as I was in a waiting room at the doctors office. Anthony's mom had come to pick up a prescription and Anthony had to come along.
Anthony was all over the place. He was climbing on stuff, touching things he had no business touching, sliding across the floor. She must have called his name a zillion times before they came and sat next to me.
What I observed prompted me to talk with Anthony. He needed attention. The entire time they were there she was buried in her phone. I felt sorry for Anthony.
After talking wit him, he seemed much more relaxed. He was easy to talk and engage with. He was kind and he had a ton to say, what three year old doesn't? Have you met Mila?
But what I felt more was the sigh of relief from the mom, whom I never introduced myself to. Her husband is deployed and I can imagine all of the stress she is feeling from that alone. Being left to be head of household and figure things out with a young child for a period of time can definitely be challenging.
However - and that's a HUGE however - my sympathy for her only runs so deep. Anthony still needs her. He still needs attention. He is not a bad kid, he just required something that he simply was not getting at the time.
I know how difficult it is to balance wearing all those hats. I'm currently sitting at soccer practice in my uniform because I forgot to bring a change of clothes to work with me this morning and I also have to pee like crazy. Ok, maybe this isn't that difficult.
But I am a single mother, active duty Army, engaged to a guy 3 hours away - that's a lot right there. No matter what I'm doing or where I may be sent at any given time, my priority is always my kid. His health and well being matter to me, at every turn.
Anthony is no different.