An Ode to Childhood Heroes and Unexpected Friendships

Houston Moms "An Ode to Childhood Heroes and Unexpected Friendships" #houstonmoms #houstonmomsblog #momsaroundhoustonMy oldest son, recently turned four-and-a-half-years old, has a love affair with garbage trucks. Every week on garbage day we listen for the loud, rumbling sounds of that giant blue monster to turn onto our street and race out {sometimes without shoes or, occasionally in my two-year-old’s case, pants} to meet it. It’s a love and friendship that began when he was barely nine months old, standing on unsteady legs as it passed our house, and shows absolutely no signs of waning.

I’ve lost count of the number of garbage truck toys he’s collected over the years. More than I can keep track of, though my son certainly seems to have a catalog of them all stored in that complex brain of his. In fact, months will go by without him ever playing with a certain one {so many does he have} when out of the blue he’ll ask, “Mommy, where’s my medium orange garbage truck with the sweeper on the front?” Heck if I know kid.

One of his greatest pleasures in life now involves presenting his vast collection of garbage truck toys to the men who circle our streets picking up trash every week. He’ll dash away when he hears the first tinkling sounds of their truck nearing our house to collect this week’s most beloved toy before racing outside to meet them. Though I’m certain these men have busy schedules to keep up with and a long day’s work ahead, they never fail to pause in their duties to admire his treasure and give a blast of their horn before sweeping away.

One sanitation worker in particular has, on more than one occasion, hopped down from his perch and taken a few extra moments to converse with my son. His name is James and he comes on Fridays for the green trash pickup. Perhaps this extra kindness stems from the fact that he too has a four-year-old son, as I learned several months ago. Or maybe he just lacks the social anxiety that makes it hard for me to strike up a conversation with random strangers. But either way, my son looks forward to his appearance every week, and truth be told, it’s become the highlight of my Fridays as well.

An Ode to Childhood Heroes and Unexpected Friendships

But no Friday felt more special than the one we experienced last week. As usual we waited for the garbage truck to turn down our street, and when it finally arrived we raced off to meet it, toy trash truck in tow. Though we maintained our social-distancing six feet, my son was still thrilled to say hello to his friend, showing off his toy from across the street. Only this time James had something to show off as well. As I soon found out, in addition to parenthood and his work for the Sanitation Department, James is also a novelist and his debut book has just recently completed the publication process. I asked where we could purchase it and, to my great pleasure, Amazon had it already in stock.

I can’t tell you the thrill my son and I experienced when our brand new copy arrived in the mail. A small thing perhaps, but a tangible representation of the friendship that’s developed between a small boy and his childhood hero. Something I can save and show him one day when he’s grown as a reminder of this simple pleasure of childhood and the bonds that form from it. I struggle to hold back tears as I glance down at the copy he signed for us with the sweetest message of friendship. I hope getting the change to autograph his life’s work brought him half the pleasure he’s bestowed upon my child.

In a world where jobs like James’ are largely forgotten or overlooked, my son took notice. And in the day and age when time means money and everyone is constantly rushing, James and his friends took the time to make a little boy’s day. These are the moments to be savored and remembered when we look back on this strange and anxious time. And I for one will never forget the beauty of this unlikely friendship.

Houston Moms "An Ode to Childhood Heroes and Unexpected Friendships" #houstonmoms #houstonmomsblog #momsaroundhouston

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Houston Moms "An Ode to Childhood Heroes and Unexpected Friendships" #houstonmoms #houstonmomsblog #momsaroundhouston

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Lauren M
Lauren M. is a native Houstonian who now lives one street over from the house where she grew up in Sugar Land. After a brief fling with Austin where she received her Bachelors Degree in English Lit from Southwestern University, she returned home to attempt to write the great American novel {or, you know, the next Harry Potter series}. A short while later a friend recruited her for a kickball league where she met a tall, handsome engineer who quite literally swept her off her feet. After tying the knot in 2014, they soon welcomed their first son Raleigh {October 2015}, and little brothers Renner {January 2018} and Rafe {September 2021}. When not chasing around her three crazy Texas tornados and reveling in the boy mom life, Lauren has discovered a newfound passion for photography and Photoshop, creating whimsical family portraits at @andwhetherpigshavewings on Instagram. You can also find her at @polyjuiceandpixiedust .


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