It is a picture perfect day in Northern Virginia. Sixty six degrees on a what is supposed to be a chilly February day.
I run after him, yelling at him to stop. Oh, these kids, I think, do they not realize how hard it is to chase after them.
We drive to a nearby park. I have visited this park for over ten years now: first with my older son and now with the little one. Both boys find wonder in the monkey bars, giggle on the swings, run after the fire flies, and chase the evening sun.
I run after my preschooler as he climbs up the slide and slides down the ladder, all the while laughing and screaming out to me. “Mama, catch me if you can, come on, Mama.” Mama tries, huffing and puffing.
I take out my iPhone to take a picture him on the playground.
The camera catches what my eyes missed.
On the corner of the playground is a young boy in a wheelchair.
I walk up to him. He cannot move any part of his body. As far as I can tell, he can barely move his head.
I see him staring at the kids running in the park.
His nanny sits across from him on a slide, just sits there and watches him.
I wonder if he understands. I wonder what he sees. What he takes in. I sit down and just look at him. I realize I am staring. It feels cruel to me, to leave this child on the playground to watch the other kids, when he cannot move.
I watch him as he sits there. His eyes are active, so alive. They follow the little kids as they run, they watch the nanny as she sits there smiling at him, and I know he sees me, watching him, sending gentle prayers his way. I know he can feel it. At least, I hope he can.
“Why are you crying, Mama?” my kiddo comes running to me and wipes my tears.
He turns to see the little boy on the chair and waves to him.
“Do you think he wants to play with me?”
“I am sure he does but maybe another time.”
“Yes, next time.”
My son’s reaction makes me smile. Yes, next time we will play with him.. in some way, shape or form. Kids dont set up boundaries or limitations. They find a way… always.
As we walk away, I turn to look at the beautiful little boy in the chair.
I think I am wrong.
It is not cruel to have him here. Not cruel. Just really sad.
Kids find joy where adults find logic and reason to be miserable. I learn from children all the time.
He is breathing in the fresh air, he is listening to the laughter reverberating on the playground. I am sure his heart is open to all the joy around him.
In the deep part of my heart, where peace dwells, this I feel: As the young dark eyes looked at me, perhaps they sensed a tired mother and sent happy wishes my way too.
My little tornado begins to run towards the car. I run behind him. My steps seem lighter. I find myself smiling.
It is a picture perfect day in Northern Virginia.