Friday, March 12, 2010

A Scottish tradition

I just can't start writing without acknowledging the fact that I have been away from the blog for six months. I don't know how it happened or where that time has gone. I didn't think it had been THAT long... yikes. Makes sense though considering the past nine and a half months have been the fastest I have ever experienced, even though every day is taken up with virtually the same things - preparing food, feeding, nursing, wiping, cuddling, playing, singing, rocking, walking, carrying, lifting, hoisting, comforting, washing, drying, cleaning, picking things up, putting things away, and going for coffee with other mums. And every free mental micro-moment that is not taken up with all those things, I am preparing for the class that I started teaching each Thursday. It's an intro Acting class through the University of Strathclyde's Centre for Lifelong Learning via the Strathclyde Theatre Group/Ramshorn Theatre. More on that later ... (I know. Promises, promises...)
So, all the above introduction is just to lay the scene for my daily life in which this post's true topic was a lovely and humbling moment.
I was just coming out of the Co-Op grocery store this afternoon, passing a man who sometimes stands outside selling The Big Issue magazine (the UK homeless publication), when he called out to me despite my having just guiltily declined to buy a copy. I was pushing Gil in his stroller and the man approached us with a coin asking if he could perform "the Scottish tradition". He touched the 20p piece to each of Gil's cheeks, wishing him health, wealth and prosperity, and tucked the coin into the pram, saying that it was meant for his piggy bank. He then said (and I wish I didn't still have to struggle to understand a true Glaswegian) either that Gil would hopefully not have to sell The Big Issue, OR that he hoped Gil would be one to buy the Big Issue in the future. I'm not sure which. Although I suppose they both amount to the same wish.
But I do know that I walked away thoroughly humbled, moved and finally understanding a similar incident that had happened when Gil was not even a month old. My mom and I were walking with him in the city centre and a young woman (who seemed perhaps somewhat synthetically happy, but genuine nonetheless) came up to us, looked in the pram and touched Gil's hand, obviously in love with him. Then she ran over to her boyfriend for something and came back with some change that she tucked in the lining of the pram, wished us well and skipped off. My mom and I were a little bewildered as we had no idea this was a custom, though we guessed it must be. But now I have confirmation.
It is a lovely gesture and I have to say that I'm humbled by the fact that both strangers who have bestowed this tradition on us appeared to have been able to ill afford it. Gil now has a very special 20p piece to hang on to.