It was a terrible morning for Liz. After she left the pediatrician’s office, her one-year-old wouldn’t stop crying, and nothing Liz did to calm him worked out. Usually, she could quiet Joe down in a matter of minutes, but he was still crying after nearly half an hour.
“Honey, please calm down,” Liz sighed helplessly. “Mommy’s taking you home soon, okay? Be a good boy, Joe!”
But Joe had decided he wouldn’t be a good boy, and he kept troubling his mom. Liz didn’t know what to do at this point. While she rocked him and strolled on the sidewalk outside the doctor’s building, people were giving her awful stares. “They must be thinking I am a terrible mother!” she thought sadly.
Liz was a new mother who had just moved to a new neighborhood in New Mexico. She was already struggling to adjust to her new surroundings, and then Joe wasn’t making things any easier for her.
Her husband was a businessman, and he was often away on business trips, so she had to look after Joe alone. Liz could, of course, hire a nanny, but she wanted her baby to grow around his family and under his mother’s attention.
“Joe, see how tall that tree is! Look at those birdies!” Liz said, trying to distract her crying baby, but it was all for naught.
Suddenly, she heard a voice behind her. “If you don’t mind, ma’am, I can help you,” it said.
Liz turned around and saw two men dressed in greasy clothes. They were somewhat in their late 20s. “I’m sorry. Help with what?” she asked, confused.
“Your baby. I can try to quiet him,” one of them offered. “I’m Daniel, and this is my buddy, Kevin. We work at a car repair shop nearby. We were on our way to work and just happened to notice you. May I?”
“Oh,” Liz hesitated. “I don’t know. Joe is being pretty fussy today. I think he’s just going to trouble you more. Are you sure?”
“Certainly, ma’am. Hi, Joe!” Daniel said with a smile. “My name is Daniel and this is my friend. Would you like to join us in a game? We’re going to hide and you’ll find us, okay?”
Daniel hid his face with his palms and shouted, “Joe! Joe! Find me!”
“A cop’s car? What’s going on?” Daniel approached the car, but he wasn’t prepared for what he saw next.
Joe was still crying, but as Daniel began to play with him, his gaze was drawn to him.
“Three! Two! One! And you found me!” Daniel uncovered his face and hid it again.
“Oh no! I have to go into hiding again! Joe! Seek me out!” He uncovered his face again.
“And you found me!” he exclaimed, grinning.
Daniel did this three to four times until Joe suddenly stopped crying and stared blankly at him.
Daniel feigned a sad face and pretended to weep. “I want a smile! Joe is not smiling at me, Kevin! Mwawww….Mwawww….”
At that point, Joe began to giggle and clapped his hands in delight. “Heeeheee!! Mawmy! Mawvy!!” he couldn’t stop laughing as Daniel pretended to cry.
Liz couldn’t help but smile at how the men managed to calm her baby, and she was very grateful to them.
“Oh, God! He was fussing so much! Thank you for helping me. I’m Liz, by the way.”
“No problem, Liz,” Daniel smiled. “Do you mind if I hold Joe for a moment?”
“Oh, not at all. Here….”
As Daniel played with Joe, Liz could see how good he was with kids, which made her wonder if he was a father too. “Do you have any kids of your own, Daniel?” she suddenly asked.
He laughed. “Not really, but I have 8 younger siblings, and I’ve been caring for them alone since our parents died. In some ways, you might say they are my own children. My youngest brother is only 15 months old, and he is just like Joe. Except that Joe is a good boy, and he won’t trouble his momma again. Will you, Joe?” he said, and the baby gave him a huge smile.
“It must be hard for you, though. I just have one child, and I am all over the place trying to figure things out,” Liz admitted shyly. “How do you manage everything?”
“But aren’t kids adorable? I mean, with the pandemic and now the inflation and price hikes, it’s been a little tough financially, and I believe most people in the state are having a hard time these days. To be honest,” he continued, “diapers and baby food are now out of reach for folks like me, but you can’t run away from your responsibilities, can you? Although it’s even more difficult when you’re the only earning hand.”
Liz nodded sadly as she took Joe back.
“We need to head to work now. It was lovely meeting you, Joe,” Daniel said. “Bye-Bye!”
As the two men waved goodbye to Joe and walked away, Liz was very worried. She really wanted to help Daniel and his siblings.
The next day, Daniel and Kevin were busy working in their car repair shop. They were loaded with work that day and just wanted to be done with it as soon as possible. While they were at it, they suddenly noticed a cop’s car pull up right outside their shop.
“A cop’s car? What’s going on?” Daniel approached the car, but he wasn’t prepared for what he saw next. Liz got down from the vehicle and approached him. She was in a police uniform and wearing black shades.
“How are you doing, Daniel?” she asked.
“Liz? Good Lord, you’re a cop?”
She smiled. “And this cop works with the New Mexico Police Department. Got a little surprise for you in exchange for what you did for me yesterday….”
Liz opened her car’s trunk, which was filled with diapers, baby food, and a huge bag of groceries. “Joe is with his grandmother, so now I get to do what I love the most—protecting and serving people, which definitely includes getting baby food and diapers for a kind citizen who doesn’t hesitate to help others in need.”
“Oh God, Liz!” Joe was in tears. “You didn’t need to.”
“I need to, Joe. Believe me,” she replied, smiling. “I hope these help your family.”