He stared at me every time he walked by. Openly stared. He was just a little boy, always holding on to a hand almost out of reach, rushing by on little legs quickly following the slower strides of longer legs. He'd turn right round and stare at me. I'll admit, and I kinda don't want to, I was cutting him way more slack because he had Down Syndrome. That's wrong, I know it, we don't have to talk about it. I don't like anyone staring at me, anyone of any type, any stripe.
I was reaching the end of my tolerance with his stares, I kept wondering what brought him and the hand he was holding back and forth by so often. 'Just stop it,' I thought. I fell into a powerfully intense conversation with a young father of a child with Down Syndrome and we spoke softly and privately. I did not notice that that little boy was now standing beside tall legs, looking round them at me. I kept trying to simply avoid his eyes.
But then I thought I saw him make a movement so I looked. He did it again. I was thunderstruck. He made a small pluck at his shirt. A bright yellow shirt. I was wearing my bright yellow shirt because I told my bright yellow shirt story during the keynote speech. I smiled at him. He grinned at me.
I wonder how often I get it wrong. I wonder how often old wounds and old patterns determine how I see and react to the world. I wonder how often I leave somewhere carrying hurt that my supposition inflicted, hurt that was never dealt out - keenly felt anyways.
My yellow shirt.
He found something about me to which he identified. He a boy. Me a man. He a kid with Down Syndrome. Me a guy in a wheelchair. Across the great divide of difference, he found something that made us the same.
A yellow shirt.
I was getting on an elevator and someone called that the little boy wanted to wave goodbye. I turned and waved. He smiled.
His eyes ...
His eyes ...
His eyes reflecting my bright yellow shirt.