There is a whole genre of books and movies that could be termed “deep and meaningful stuff coming out of random people’s lives intersecting by chance.” Sometimes they are well done, but as a concept they are not longer new. To me, the epitome of the genre is the movie “Crash” circa 2004. A cool IMDB list called “Multiple-Storyline Films” collects many examples, among them some excellent movies such as Short Cuts, Night on Earth, Pulp Fiction, Amores Perros, and Babel.
We all meet many people throughout our lives. A few we call family, some more we call friends or colleagues, but the vast majority are people whose lives cross but never really intertwine with ours. Sure, I can imagine a skilled movie director making something out of a mundane interaction between a grocery store clerk and a patron (or, say, between a department store clerk and a patron), but for most of us such interactions are barely noticeable and don’t really add color to the daily routine.
But there is a group of people with whom most of us interact a significant amount as adults; we intrude upon each other’s private lives, yet we are seldom friends.
They are the parents of our kids’ friends. They are the people whom we text when we need our kid picked up or dropped off someplace and we can’t make it. They are the people who have our precious babies in their care for hours on end, sometimes even overnight. Then the kids grow up or their friendships fade, and the parents fade out of our lives, too. Sometimes we like them, sometimes we don’t really, but we trust them with the most valuable of all our riches.
They travel a really important part of our lives right alongside us and provide real, tangible support. They also share their wonderful kids with us, and their kids make our own family seem bigger and warmer. And then they part ways with us.
Happy trails, fellow parents. Thanks for the playdates and the sleepovers and the snacks and the chauffeuring. Thanks for your hospitality and your warmth. May your kids grow up to be all that they can be.