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It changes everything…

The door closed without a sound behind the mother and child. The woman looked after them, her expression pensive – pensive enough that she first did not react when one of her friends suggested that they collect the children and start heading home. 

“Janna.”

The sharpness of the tone startled her out of her revery and reminded her that she was not alone. 

“Sorry, I was thinking.”

Caroline just rolled her eyes.

“Ella and I are going to collect the monsters and head home – you staying out.”

“No, I’ll come” 

But she remained uncharacteristically silent through the inevitable twenty minutes it took to get over moans of “five more minutes”, the search and collection of lost hats, and the futile attempt to herd six little children into one direction. 

“You ok?”

Caroline knew her friend and worry started to raise its head. 

“I think we are being mean.”

“What?” 

Both women halted in stuffing uncooperative arms into jackets and looked at her aghast.

“I don’t think we intend to be but I think we are mean.”

“Why? What are you talking about.”

“That new family. The mother comes out every time we play outside and we have not really made an effort to include her.”

“She can just come and talk to us. It is not as if we walk away when she turns up.” Caroline was never the most patient one. 

“No, we don’t walk away. But we also do not go and talk to her.”

“She is arrogant. She comes out, puts her kids on the bikes and then constantly follows them around. She is the one who does not want to talk to us.” Janna could hear the defensiveness in Ella’s tone. Which is why she knew she was right.

“She is shy.”

“Oh please, she is a grown woman who has moved into the biggest house in the square. She only ever comes out in full make-up and her shoes cost as much as my car.”

At Jann’s raised eyebrow Caroline had the grace to look abashed. “Ok, so possibly not my car. But still. She clearly has money – what is she shy about?”

“She has moved from a different country, into a city in corona lockdown, with two little kids. It cannot be easy. And then, we have not been that friendly. Yes, we have answered her questions when she asked something but, let’s be honest, who has actually tried TALKING to her. Asking her some questions? Asking if she is ok?”

Both her friends remained quiet for a moment, silently collecting possessions. It was Ella who spoke first:

“I called Georgie away from the little boy.”

“It’s the rules – no mixing of more than three households.” Caroline’s tone had turned stringent.

“That is not why I did it. Well, it was – but also because she kind off puts me off and then we had talked about her being arrogant, and  then… I just called him.”

“ She has come out every day, every single day, and she has talked to us, asked questions. She has tried. Yes, she has not pushed in or invited us to a playdate – but it is corona. Possibly we need to pull the stick out of our arses and make a little bit of an effort.”

Janna was not happy with herself, not at all. Tomorrow would be better. 

"You cannot understand someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes. "

– American Saying

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