Our group brought a TON of candy from the U.S. to give out to the kids at the Ministry, because lollipops overcome all language barriers.
Of course this somehow also meant that our kids managed to end up with hands and pockets full of candy every time we turned around.
Both my girls have the tendency to hoard things to a certain extent, going all Smeagle with their Precious little stashes of their favorite candy. These tiny stashes becoming even more precious as the days pass and all the “good” candy disappears.
One evening, after another long, wonderful, exhausting day right before we were getting ready to go home, I was standing with a group of the kids from the Ministry, doing my best to communicate with them with my terrible Spanish, Cora walked up to me, handed me her bag of candy and ran off. Well, all those pretty little brown eyes around me just lit up and they asked for candy and without even thinking about it I proceeded to hand out all of Cora’s Precious little hoard to these kids.
About halfway into it I realized the terrible mistake I was making and tried my best to communicate to the kids to NOT tell Cora I gave them all her candy!
As soon as I had given away all the candy I enlisted Ada’s help and we re-filled the bag, but it was too late. All of the “good” stuff was gone. I was in BIG TROUBLE.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for Cora to recognize one of HER tiny bags of Skittles in someone else’s hand and come running to me. With sad, desperation in her voice “Mom, did you give away my candy???”
The situation just spiraled out of control from there. I tried to explain to Cora what happened, but things escalated real fast…and the louder she got, the more kids ran over to see what was wrong and comfort her.
I felt so awful. I felt awful for giving my sweet girl’s candy away, and I felt awful because she wasn’t willing to share her candy with these kids who have so much less than she does, and I felt awful because I was about to be in the middle of an epic meltdown surrounded by about 50 of our sweet new friends.
We were ready to leave anyway, so I attempted to make my way to the door with Cora, she was having none of it until I got her candy back. Her already-eaten-by-other-kids candy, so this wasn’t an option.
I finally got her out the door and was trying to get her down the 150 or so stairs with her screaming and crying and about half a dozen kids (who had just met her by the way) surrounding her trying to hug her and hold her and comfort her. Several of them were even handing her their candy to make her feel better.
Nick meanwhile was having none of this nonsense and in an effort to not smack his 7 year old in front of the growing crowd he just took off down the stairs. I get it. I do. There are few things he hates more than selfishness.
I was left with one option – I picked Cora up and carried her, screaming and crying, down the 150 stairs, through the neighborhood, in the dark. It was one of those adrenaline fueled, super-human-mom-strength moments for sure because there is no way I am fit enough to carry Cora down 150 steps under normal circumstances.
The entire way down about 6 or so kids still swarmed around us, looking up at us with sweet concern in their big brown eyes, cooing “Oh, Cora, Cora, Cora” and trying to pat her head and comfort her…
She cried and whined just about the entire way home in the taxi, a roughly 30 minute ride. I finally got her mostly calmed down by the time we got home, although she still wasn’t happy with me and I had to promise her lots of candy to make up for my betrayal.
Everywhere we went on this trip there was at least one Peruvian with each group of gringos to make sure we got where we need to go safely and with as little hassle as possible. Our Peruvian was Regina, our Peruvian Abuelita, also the mother/grandmother of the family we are staying with. I felt so terrible, and to be honest embarrassed at Cora’s behavior that Regina had to witness the entire way home.
The thing is, I’m 100% certain that Regina wasn’t mad, or thinking terrible things about us. Grandmas are great like that, they know that sometimes being little is really hard. After we got home Regina went up to her apartment, and a few minutes later she came back down and handed Cora this sweet little pasty, patted her on the head, said something in Spanish and went back home.
It was like flipping a switch with Cora, that little act of kindness turned everything around. Like only a grandma can, Regina made everything all better with a loving touch and a little sweet treat.
I was still so embarrassed by and frustrated with Cora’s behavior, and there were consequences for her tantrum. And I also felt so bad for making her feel betrayed like that, like she couldn’t trust me to take care of something she cared about. But in the end I was just so touched by the concern of those sweet little kids from the Ministry and from the gesture of love and grace from this woman we had only met a few days prior who managed to make everything better.