I was recently asked to write a statement of personal belief based on a story from my life. I hope you enjoy it.
In 1993, I went without an ordinary convenience and learned to value the power of teamwork. Even now, twenty years later I am still applying what I learned from the smallest members of my family and know nothing is impossible when everyone works together.
I was newly divorced with two young sons, we lived a tiny apartment. I stayed exhausted all the time; and even though I worked every available hour it seemed like there was never enough.
Our apartment building had a laundry room in the basement but because I was only a renter I was not allowed to have a key. This meant every week I packed up all our wash and we headed to the coin laundry. It would take all day, a ton of quarters and there was not much for little boys to do. Sometimes the owner would turn on the video game in the back room for them. They would stand on one of the plastic chairs playing it and I could hear them laughing. At the end of the day, I loaded everything back in the car, lugged it back to the apartment and put it away, only to repeat the same pattern every week in every kind of weather.
One afternoon as I was working in the kitchen my boys came running in the back door.
“Mom, Mom…come look! Come look!!” they said jumping up and down.
“You have to come quick!!”
I stopped what I was doing and followed behind them. They led me to some levered windows behind our building. The windows sat right at ground level and served to ventilate the basement.
“Watch this!” the oldest one said proudly as he smiled up at me through big round glasses.
He turned to his little brother and said, “OK, Michael, go.”
Michael proceeded to place his hands on the tilted out window frame. His big brother walked up behind him grabbed both of his ankles and lifted his legs straight up into the air. My four year old son then pushed himself through the small slot open at the top of the window. He disappeared into basement of our building, and out of sight. I almost panicked as I bend down and looked into the hole that just swallowed up my youngest child.
“Alex, what on earth are ya’ll doing?”
“Be quiet, Mom, this is a secret” “We don’t want anyone to know.”
I heard sounds coming from inside the basement, foot-steps and then nothing. Alex seemed pleased, so I waited. It was only few minutes later and Michael came running from around the end of the building.
“It’s done” he said, catching his breath.
“Where did you go?”
“Are you alright?”
“Mom, we fixed it.” he said. “Alex figured it out, and we did it.”
Taking me by the hand, they led me to the end of the building and to the door that led into the forbidden laundry room.
“We unlocked the door, for you.” “You don’t have to carry those big baskets, and you don’t have to spend all your quarters anymore.”
It dawned on me then, what they’d done. My two sweet little boys figured out how to break into the laundry room. They worked together to solve a problem, and not a kid sized problem but a grown up one.
“We’ll need to be careful” said my oldest. “But we can sneak down after dark and do this, anytime you want Mom.”
“That’s right.” chimed in Michael. “I can be the look out since I am the smallest.”
“Are you happy Mom?” .
“Yes, honey” “I am happy.” “But you know it’s wrong to sneak into places like this don’t you?” I said in what I hoped was my concerned mother voice.
“Yeah, we know” Alex answered for the two of them.
“But you should have a key, its worse for you to be treated bad just because you do not have much money.” His little brother standing beside him nodded, equally convinced justice was being served. They wanted to know if I was mad at them. I wasn’t.
My sons devised and carried out a secret plan to save their mother. They worked as a team and accomplished their goal. They saw a greater good and trusted it would be served if they did what they felt was right. I decided to let them help me. From that time on, one night a week, when everyone was in for the evening, they made a way for us and I followed. We worked together and got the wash done.