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Kindness Counts

What else can go right?

One minute you’re singing along to the radio, the volume a little too high, and the next you turn it off because your twelve-year-old daughter has climbed off of her bus and piled into the car with all of her school day bits and pieces and you don’t want to miss anything she reports in the precious few minutes it takes to drive down the hill, up the circle and into your welcoming garage. A scant hour later, your sidekick—now decked out in one of her bright blue leotards, ballet pink tights, her hair coiled into a bun—tumbles back into the front seat and you scan to make sure she’s put on enough outer wear for this day when the low is fifty degrees below normal. She hasn’t, really, but rather than fuss at her you turn up the heat a little and seeing the yellow streak of your son’s high school bus zip by down the hill, you rev the engine just a little in order to pick him up, circle back up to drop him near the warmth of the house, and head back out, glancing down at the electronic clock to register whether you’re really going to maybe be on time for dance for once.

And that’s when you notice that there’s no clock.

In fact, there’re no lights at all. The heat still works, the dash is lit up, but the stereo is nonresponsive. The Bluetooth button on the steering wheel elicits no response. Pressing the button off and on and pushing all of others have no effect. At dance you turn the car engine all the way off and on again, because it’s a computer after all, and still nothing. Your daughter leans her head toward you for a kiss and lightly bounces off, and you wince a little because you know this is the day she has to wait an hour after her class releases in order to accommodate your teaching schedule, but she’s got a book and she claims she doesn’t mind. As you’re driving away you notice the next thing: the odometer is flashing even as the miles mount. You call your service advisor, his name and cell phone number memorized in your phone but, you think, you sure don’t want to resort to putting him on speed dial.

The next day at the enormous dealership under the even more enormous American flag, he agrees: “You don’t want to get to know my children’s birthdays,” he says. He’s right. You love that this young man has children and you’re even glad to ask just now about their ages and genders—when he reports that his little girl is six months and his son just turned two, you understand completely why you need to refresh his memory about who you are even though you were just in the week before.

You leave the car and catch a ride with the chatty courtesy shuttle driver back home where you retrieve your unreliable car and proceed to the grocery store. There’s a whole other little family of people there who keep tabs on you, who know that if you’re not there at 8am on Tuesday as you weren’t this morning because you were dropping off the car there’s something wrong, who will listen, shake their heads, and even make a gift to you of the reusable grocery bags you’re purchasing. You thank them for listening and head off for the rest of your day.

Before the sleep-deprived service advisor calls with a report that—and here’s a surprise—your radio isn’t functioning, your son arrives home from school ill for the second time in two weeks. You have to run out to teach again, so you leave your daughter to care for him and she covers him through his chills and a hard sleep while she does her homework and doesn’t practice because she doesn’t want to wake him up. A quick supper for her and it’s out the door to ballet again while her brother sleeps on. When you get home and go to check on him, he’s burning up. His temperature climbs up to 103.5.

Now you find a substitute for your class in the morning with the knowledge that no matter what happens next it’s going to be a wakeful night. You breathe a sigh of relief as the fever drops to around 100.5—no emergency room, you’ll call the doctor in the morning—and you leave to go get your dancer a little before her class is over so she won’t be waiting for you in the dark. You crawl into bed still fully dressed, not caring really. It’s been a long day.


At the end of the week your car is back in your garage, even though the radio has yet to be replaced and your son is on the mend, even though he’s missed three full days of school. Your to-do list for the week has been entirely derailed, you missed some of your regular activities, and you’ve woken up feeling like you haven’t slept at all. You know this has been a week of missteps and small concerns, but you think when health and basic transportation are at issue, it’s something more than petty and it all feels a little too enormous, so it’s a week from which you require some healing. You start by reflecting on kindnesses, little and big, because these are the things that go right and the gestures that keep you going: the friend who brought you two kinds of Wheat Thins; the grocery store employee who gifted you free reusable bags; the teacher who leapt in to teach for you; the yogi who texted “Happy Friday” just because; the woman you barely know who offered to loan you her car; the friend who wrote that you’re a “super Mom;” the opportunity to write it down and send it out there under the new moon. You breathe in, you breathe out, you move on.

Namaste & big love, Rxo

My dancer, dressed in her Nutcracker costume ... a rat to love

My dancer, dressed in her Nutcracker costume … a rat to love


About Robin Bourjaily

I currently perform my own stunts as a mother, writer, editor, yoga instructor, and certified Yoga As Muse facilitator. Overneath It All is a medium for sharing my stories--my commitment is to post on the full and new moons, plus or minus a day or two, and the occasional personal holiday. My novel, Throwing Like a Girl, is now available in e-formats on Smashwords. Please visit to download. Thanks for checking in. xoR

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