We run to school. We leave our house and Little G holds the door for us. He expectantly unlatches the gate and then we're off. People cringe when they see him running full force to the corner of the street, and breathe a sigh of relief when he turns the corner without skipping a beat.
The Ladybug's face shines up at me from her stroller while we race down the hill toward the 'big street', stopping at every driveway now to see if there's a car coming.
"Nope, nobody coming!" he sings.
Down to the corner by the bus stop - he presses the button for the crosswalk which doesn't respond until I catch up and actually press the stiff button all the way.
Holding hands, we cross and continue along the busy, loud street. Cars, buses, trucks of every kind from mail to trash to funny looking ones for picking cherries. We wave to everyone we pass. We say 'hello'. There is an Indian family that waits for the city bus at the next corner that we see every day and say, 'hi' to.
Today they weren't there.
Today, there was an older man that we have never seen beckoning for us to come closer...which I couldn't stop us from doing because we were walking in that direction.
Today, as we got closer, the older man squatted down blocking almost the entire sidewalk to get a hug from Little G who was careening in his direction.
Today, I said loudly and sternly, "NO. No hugs. No hugs."
The spirit of the morning changed for just a moment. I could hear the quiet between the squeals of bus brakes and roar of dump trucks. I could anticipate that man's clothing touching the skin of my little boy.
Today, Little G stopped before the man and looked at him warily and then diverted his path completely around him, watching him all the way.
The man mumbled, "why?" and as I passed I said, "because we do not hug strangers on the street."
Suddenly, a voice from a bright red pickup truck stopped in traffic, gleefully shouted hello to us. Our neighbor, Carlos. Little G jumped and pointed and shouted back to him and waved joyfully as we continued our run to school.