While I’m not familiar with the origin of the proverb, I’m wholly in agreement that it certainly does take a village to raise a child. In this day and age of internet-connectedness where our closes friends could be hundreds of miles away, I feared that our village would be rather small indeed. I have been pleasantly surprised, though, at just how large our village can be. My close friends and family know who they are and so I’ve taken away a few paragraphs where I named names and deeds from our friends and family who have helped us with our little elfkin. The appreciation still blossoms when I think of how they’ve helped and the lessons they’ve taught us. I was most interested, though, in writing about finding unexpected people in the village that helps us to raise our child.
I was surprised the most to find that we had a village even in the strangers in our neighborhood. Little old ladies smile with eyes twinkling and offer helpful information–where the restrooms are at the grocery store. Other moms come congratulate me on my little one, tell me how beautiful she is, and reassure me that I’m the only one bothered by her wails of dismay in the middle of Toys R Us. The librarian at our local branch showed me how I can put the entire stack of books on the check out all at once instead of having to scan each bar code–a real lifesaver when you’re on the count down to a melt down because it’s almost meal time. The woman at the coffee shop who admired us as a tag-team, out on the town running errands–and who kept an eye on her while I got cream for my coffee just 5 feet away. Yes–gasp–I let a stranger keep an eye on her for just a moment. When I returned with my cup of coffee, we talked, the woman and I, about babies, schooling, and the variances in different Montessori schools.
It was then that I sort of realized that these strangers are the village that it takes to raise a child. Without these people I’d be, for example, running out of a store at top speed the moment our little one’s face crumples. I’d be stuck going no further than 5 miles from home so that I knew I could be home to change her diaper or give her more food when the time ticked down. I’d be unable to take the time to run the errands necessary to keep the household running smoothly…
At first, the attention made me shrink. I like attention, yes, but on my terms, not someone else’s. But then, as the hints proved helpful, and the smiles proved warm and genuine, I began to enjoy being a part of this village and taking the opportunity to make life easier by listening.
There’s more to be said about this, but she’s calling me now. In summary–I’m thankful for our neighborhood, our neighbors, and the kind smiles from strangers in the world. When given the opportunity, be that kind person who lends a helping hand or understanding smile. I think it makes the world a much better place. <3