I'm sitting at Starbucks while Joe and Mike and Ruby are getting ready to go swimming. Ruby loves the pool and I love Starbucks Green Tips tea. I'm reading a wonderful little book called 'The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie' and I was having a lovely time when a family overtook the table two behind me. I worked at tuning out their chatter so I could continue on with my book.
I gave up because the children's boisterous voices kept breaking into my concentration. No I wasn't annoyed at their noise. I don't understand people who complaing about children's happy noises. Kids crying bugs the hell out of me, like it does everyone else, but happy sounds from children are charming no matter how loud or in what context. The giggle of the girls and the snorts from the boys acted as a kind of social 'happy' drug in my system.
So I looked out of the window and watched passersby and just listened to the chatter around me. One of the boys spotted me, I only know this because I get a skin prickly feeling when I'm being stared at. I glanced over to see if I was right and I was, he looked to be about 8 and he was scanning me intently. I looked away, uncomfortable. One of the parents notice and said, "Jackson, don't stare." I was pleased at the parental intervention and decided right there I loved the name Jackson.
A boy's voice said, "He must be so sad."
Dad now, "Why do you say that?"
"He can't walk."
Mom: "He rolls, it's just different."
"He can't run."
Dad: "I'll bet his chair goes really really fast downhill."
"He doesn't have any friends."
Mom now: "Look he's wearing a wedding ring."
Normally I'd be uncomfortable being talked about but I wasn't. I was fascinated. I listen to them calmly discussing why his assumption of sadness was just that, an assumption.
Jackson seemed like he'd been argued out. Finally he said, "Well, maybe he's not so sad."
Mom again: "Just because someone is different doesn't mean that we should feel sorry for them, we should just be curious about how their life is different, we should be interested."
Then suddenly, it was over.
Joe, Mike and Ruby came into the coffee shop and I was surrounded by activity. On our way out I stopped and said to Jackson's parents, "If I had an award to give to parents for good parenting, you'd get it. I appreciate you helping Jackson appreciate difference."
Jackson jumped in: So you aren't sad that you are in a wheelchair.
I looked at him and said: One day I'll race you ... downhill.
I love the sound of kids laughing.