Musings + Essays

To the Boy at the 23rd Street Stop.

By: Jen Shoop

On Wednesday afternoon, I was trundling down the steps of the 23rd street stop, a 20-something-pound baby strapped to my chest, an unwilling and tired toddler reluctantly holding my hand as she precariously teetered from steep step to steep step, a backpack stuffed to the brim with my daughter’s toddler backpack, formula, wipes, and other essentials affixed to my back, and a collapsed stroller slung over my other arm — and though there are far graver burdens to bear and though even in that moment I thought “I will one day look back at this with a mix of bemusement and admiration” — my desperation must have caught your eye, because you ran down the steps two at a time —

“Ma’am, ma’am!” you called. I turned, thinking you were restoring to me an errant mitten or rejected pacifier, and instead found you extending your arms:

“Can I help?”

Would it be unbecomingly melodramatic to admit that I cried to Mr. Magpie later that night, positively overwhelmed by your goodness and earnestness, even and especially when you appeared to be all of fourteen, and a pack of your ungainly friends were clustered not far away, and I am assured that such attributes are not a cool look on a pubescent teen?

Would it be too vitriolic a remonstrance to add that you offered me this generosity in spite of the fact that many other able-bodied adults sprinted right by me?

I wonder, sometimes, if gender politics are to blame for the determined aversion to the surrendering of seats on the subway to a mother laden with small children or to an expecting mother unwieldy on her feet, but that is neither here nor there, because today I want to simply say —

Thank you, to the boy at the 23rd street stop.

You humbled me, you made my day, and you also prompted me to wonder about your parents, and the wonderful people they must be, and the entire episode left me blearily optimistic and determined to instill the same helpfulness in my children.

Merci, merci.


+Another lovely interaction on the subway.

+And a not-so-lovely interaction with a stranger as I navigated a similar challenge. (Your comments on this post were stirring. They made me re-think the entire incident.)

+I need more pairs of skinnies with stretch in them for looking after my little ones. I am a J. Brand devotee but am going to test out this $68 pair (less than half the price of my favorites from J. Brand!) after reading many many positive reviews!

+These gingham rompers are on sale for only $18! Just ordered in the khaki for micro.

+Another epic Shopbop sale find: these lace-up sandals for only $25 (thanks LeCatch for the tip!)

+If you are an Ugg-lover, Nordstrom has tons of styles on sale, including these cute ones for littles for 50% off!

+Speaking of Uggs: Uggs, but fashion. I own a pair of similar boots from Isabel Marant that I wear more than I probably should. They are essentially Uggs but feel a bit dressier…and OMG I WISH THESE WERE IN MY SIZE THEY ARE SO GOOD.

+I’ve seen these dramatic-collared blouses all over the place (including on style guru Nellie Diamond of HHH) and Zara enables you to get the look for only $20!

+I have a hard time finding cotton peter pan collar tops for mini — just ordered this $13 style and will report back!

+We are ordering upholstered dining chairs. Ordering one of these for mini STAT.

+The above was a reminder of this Henry James quote.

+A guide to living a more hands-free life as a mom.

+I have been absolutely living in these long-sleeved Kule tees for the past few weeks. I like the “modern long” shape and am itching to add this one to my collection. (And your mini can match!)

+THIS STRIPED BLOUSE! Very Mark D. Sikes, for little ones.

+Similar look, but for me: this $75 (!!) blouse from VB, which reminds me a lot of a Petersyn top I have from a few seasons back, but it’s long-sleeved. Also eyeing these from her sale!

+I own this shrunken hoodie and it is now on sale for only $24!

+Crazy flash sale at J. Crew — extra 60% off select styles, including this bejeweled cardigan, which brings the price down to $35 or something! Also included in the promo: one of my favorite black sweaters (I own this exact style), mini’s winter coat (she owns the iced orchid color), a classic sweater (mini owns in the cheery red), and this chic coat that I might order for mini for next winter.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

11 thoughts on “To the Boy at the 23rd Street Stop.

  1. What a sweet young man! This story warmed my heart.

    KULE — yes to the pink/green color combo! I haven’t worn those colors together since college but would absolutely give that shirt a spin. 🙂 xx

    1. Haha — me neither come to think of it…?! Pink and green is a total throwback to college sorority days. xx

  2. This story warms my heart!
    I have to admit, I am guilty of misjudging today’s youth at times, but I experienced something similar in which I gave myself a mental “tsk tsk” for said misjudgment . I was picking up my parents (in their mid-70s) at the airport after their international flight — and let me add that they do NOT travel light (we’re talking 2 or 3 large 50-lb suitcases plus carry-ons). Two boys, probably around the ages of 14-16, saw us and came over to help us load the suitcases in the trunk. I was beyond grateful! I really need to give teenagers far more credit. I have a lot of hope for this next generation!

    Funny, I JUST ordered that same Peter Pan collar top from Amazon! I purchased a short sleeve version too, by the same brand (also from Amazon).

    1. I’ve been guilty of the same, Mia! This story humbled me…

      So funny about the peter pan collar top! Great minds think alike. Mine arrived and I like it — well-made, soft. I wish the size of the collar were a bit bigger (weird thing to note) but it’s definitely a good price for a solid top and I find this style so hard to find for toddlers over 2T!


  3. I once on a flight to Vegas and saw an early-20s aged guy wearing a hot pink “PARTY ROCK” tshirt with a posse of friends who all looked Ready to Have a Good Time (and in fact probably starting Having a Good Time on the plane) helping a frail elderly lady off the plane. And as I passed them en route to baggage claim, I heard him say to his friends “well, I’m going to be old some day too.” Served me right for judging a book by its cover!

  4. I had a similar experience recently when walking into the pediatrician’s office, overloaded with an infant in a car seat, diaper bag, and purse, and wearing heels after coming from the office. A teenage boy jumped up from his seat in the waiting room and ran to hold the doors for me. It made me so grateful and resolved to raise any son or daughter with the same conscientiousness towards others. Now how to do so!

    1. On please let me jump right in here with both feet! I’m certain most conscientious mothers want their children to grow up helping others ( at school, in public, church, etc). I sat down with my kids when they were old enough to understand the basic concept of “helping” and told them we do it because it makes you feel good about yourself and we do not do it for praise. We do it because we want to do it. So, then as encouragement, I added that when they did something nice for others and I saw it, OR someone came up to me and told me about it, that they would get a treat. They could never ask the person to “tell my mom what I did”! The bribery started the wheel moving and soon we were all so excited about helping others, the “treats” we’re never discussed. My husband and I made a big deal about it at dinner and thanked the child for sharing his help. It really worked well. Hope it helps you too!

Previous Article

Next Article