There are three computer terminals at the business center in this hotel. Right now I am seated at the one on the far left, right by the wall. I've always liked being with my back to the wall - that way danger can come in only one direction. I glance at the computer stand right next to me. Smile. It was a good night last night.
I checked in late and stopped by to check to see if anyone had posted comments on my blog posts. Nope. Then checked email. None. Feeling rejected by the web I was about to leave. Just then a woman and teen son entered the business center. This is one that is privately run and you have to check in, pay and have the clerk log you on. As she was busily paying for her son she said, "I'm coming back in a half hour. Don't go anywhere else. Do you understand?"
Even teens with disabilities can be embarrassed by their moms. He rolled his eyes. She looked at him with a look that's said, "we've been through this before young man and I really mean it this time." Then she looked at me and an odd expression crossed her face. I didn't think much of it, I get odd expressions often.
She left and the clerk signed him on to the computer one station away. The clerk asked his name, he answered swiftly, "I don't tell strangers my name." The clerk looked offended but I was kind of pleased.
Then the nameless one looked at me, "And you are a stranger too so don't talk to me cause if you do I'll tell my mom."
I nodded and said, "That's enough to scare me."
He burst out laughing. So did I. Even so, he did what he needed on the computer and got him self going.
"Mom told me that I had to know three things about someone before they could be trusted." He looked back at the clerk who was listening in, "And I don't know anything about you guys so you can't be my friend and you can't be trusted."
That was that.
I decided to check out a few things for tomorrow. We're going to the 'superhero' exhibit at the Science Center tomorrow and I thought maybe we'd do a movie afterwards. We haven't seen wonder-kid Joseph for awhile, want tomorrow to be fun. I can fritter time away on the computer with the greatest of ease.
It seemed only seconds later when mom was back and he was finishing up his game on the computer. She asked him to step outside for a second and then she took the seat next to me.
"You are Dave Hingsburger, right?"
I said, "Yes," a little surprised but now understanding the look she'd given me. It was recognition.
"How did he do?"
"My son, how did he do?"
I understood her question immediately. I told her that he was quick to keep us all at a distance and that even though he thought my comment funny he didn't talk to me. I told her that I was amazed because most people I know with William's syndrome really can't stop talking given the slightest opportuntity.
She asked what I had said that was so funny. I blushed. I can you know. I told her that I'd made a joke about how scary she was.
She smiled and said, "I have to be scary sometimes. It's part of being mom."
Then she told me that she saw me speak when her son was just a baby. (A baby! He's almost a full grown man now. God, how old am I?") And she was determined that her boy would not be someone's victim, someone's statistic. She taught him from the time he could talk to not talk to strangers, not give out information and to tell her if anyone tried to break her rules.
I told her that I was impressed. She'd done a good job.
She thanked me for my work, for my book Just Say Know and for giving her ideas about how to keep her son safe. I almost cried.
As she left the room I heard her son say, "Mom, he's a stranger and you talked to him. You don't even know what kind of ice cream he likes."
She glaced back at me and smiled.
"Yes, I do. Any."
Truly scary, that woman, and I mean that in a good way.