There is often such a clumbsiness in how waitstaff handle the extra chair. They see me coming to the table and rush about grabbing first this chair then that and bumbling along with it trying to find somewhere to put it. It's like someone in a wheelchair has never gone out to eat before in the history of man. But, nonetheless, we were seated at the table where we were going to chow down on Easter Sunday Brunch. Predictably the food was arrayed on tables set up with narrow passageways. We are still living in a time where accessibility is a surprise and 'sorry sir' the common experience.
So it came to be that Ruby and I were alone at the table for a wee while. Her relationship with Henry, my wheelchair, had increased her affection towards me astronomically. So there was no worry about missing Mom and Dad when Dave and Henry were on guard. The Maitress D' had given Ruby a little bag that contained children's stuff. Crayons, colouring book, tic tac toe set were amongst the tresures. Ruby quite diligently pulled everything out. Measured it up. She then decided to colour in the tic tac toe markers. She was gently hummmmmmmmming to herself as she made herself busy.
I noticed the waiter notice her. I thought he was noticing her pretty pink dress and matching pink gum boots (with a delightful pink heart motif). It was like he was drawn magnetically over to the table. I was getting a little concerned in his interest, he caught my eye and looked meaningfully down at the table, like something was going wrong. I could see nothing wrong, I smiled back up at him. Exasperation was all over his face. He now thought that the others had left a child and a dim cripple all alone at the table.
He rushed over and said to Ruby, "Those aren't for colouring, you are supposed to colour here". He gently openned the book and gave it to Ruby, then he was gone. It happened in an instant. Ruby looked at the colouring book, it held no interest to her. She looked down at the tic tac toe markers knowing now she was not to colour them. She put the crayon down.
She put the crayon down.
Why did the waiter care?
Was God neglectful by leaving the colouring of tic tac toe markers out of the list of commandments?
My resentment quickly turned to regret. I have done this a thousand times. A thousand times I have interjected myself and my sense of what is proper (not what is right, there is a huge difference) into the lives of those in my care. I have cared about things that didn't matter, I have intervened in triviality, I have made little room for adaption and difference.
Why does even a little bit of power corrupt even in very little places? Why do we suddenly feel that we have to have the world set up between our margins? Why can't we occasionally just shut up.
Maybe sometimes our silence, our tolerance, our knowing our own place can be the biggest gift we can give another.
Maybe sometimes we should stop and think before we speak, think about saying words that matter about things that don't matter.
Maybe we should just, occasionally, shut up.