Stephen H Stein
3 min readSep 21, 2021

I’m on a play date with Kyle. It’s late in the morning; one of those days that starts off fall but turns summer by 10:30 — so I’ve neglected to bring sun block; which means we’ll both pay for it later.

The play date has been set up by Pheobe, as it was originally it was supposed to be moms. But the other dad and his kid haven’t shown up yet so I’m pushing Kyle on the swings. He likes the one where the plastic harness comes down over his body and locks between his legs.

“I think this one’s for little kids, bud.”

“I know, but I like it.”

Our play dates show. I recognize the dad. I’ve met him before. Manny. Nice guy. Turns out he’s a real nice guy. Incredibly patient and kind, very attentive and sweet. Lets his kid hold his phone the whole time.

Kyle and his friend are playing in the dirt, their hands pretending to be bulldozers. But once they hit the 6 minute mark, they’re ready to close the construction site and move on. Kyle holds up his hands.

Kyle: Dad, can I have a wipe?

Steve: Um, we might have some in the car. I can-

Manny: I have some in my bag. Here.

Manny hands a wipe to Kyle. Kyle takes it and unprompted… says thanks. I’m proud. Then Kyle puts his hand out to me with the used wipe.

Kyle: Can you throw this away for me?

Steve: No.

Kyle (not making eye contact): But I don’t know where the garbage is.

I hold my arm out and point to the garbage can 15 feet away. I wait for him to look at me, but nothing.

Steve: Look where I’m pointing.

Kyle (turning around, following my finger, and finally seeing the garbage can): Oh.

We move back to the swings for a little bit, but the sun is blazing. The boys are done. However, Manny and I are still talking. We make our way to the shade. Kyle drags his foot through the wood chips the whole way. Drag and step, drag and step. I know pieces are going to slip into his shoe. They won’t bother him at first, but then they will.

“Wow,” says Manny watching Kyle. “You’re really committed to making that path. You’re doing such a good job, Kyle.”

Stephen H Stein

Have a nice day unless you have other plans.