I was sitting on a blanket with Cian, keeping an eye on the girls, who were splashing around in the wading area of our community pool. It took me a second, but I realized that Saoirse was looking at me, and that she was crying. My mama heart seized up for a moment. A little boy–and by little, I mean, he was bigger than SK–had taken the new toy boat she’d brought from home and was playing with it, taunting her, splashing it back and forth so that the water was getting kicked up in my daughter’s face. SK had been asking him to stop, from what I could see. Now she was looking at me, wanting me to tell her what to do, to intercede, to do something.
I bent down to scoop up Cian, my heart pounding now because you don’t mess with my kid, and looked up a split second later to a scene I never, ever expected to see.
Quinn was walking away from that boy, trudging up the grass toward me. She had Saoirse’s boat in her hand.
“That boy took Saoirse’s boat!” she cried. She was indignant. Tears were streaming down her face. Her eyes looked hurt, and she was horrified, and she was clearly crying at the injustice of it all. Saoirse was still in the pool, looking after the boy as he walked away. I was staring at Quinn.
She’d taken the boat back. My three-year-old girl–my skin-and-bones-looking, timid, thumb-sucking little girl–had stuck up for her big sister and gotten the toy back from the bully who’d swiped it.
I met the girls down by the water. I hugged SK, made sure she was okay, and gave the toy back to her. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the boy go up to another little girl–a toddler this time–and steal a bucket out of the child’s hand, ignoring her cries, even though her mother was actually standing right next to her. I wiped Quinn’s tears, and high-fived her. “I’m proud of you, Quinn!” I said, and watched her nod in understanding, looking at her sister. At this point my heart felt like it was just going to go popping right out of my chest like an over-inflated balloon.
Ten minutes later would find us all sitting back on the blanket, eating lunch. Quinn would start screaming at her six-month-old brother for playing with her boat, and I’d have to admonish her for being impatient and encourage her to share. But right now, at this moment? Remembering the tears and her sister’s boat and the bully who got told that you don’t mess with somebody’s sister?
Right now she’s my hero.