Monday, April 27, 2009

Perspective 101 - as taught by Donald, age 7

So life has had a few more downs than ups lately--the most and recent obvious one is the rather large and purplish toe on the end of my left foot. The toe that doesn't really bend--or at least without serious discomfort. The toe that is really a small part of my body, but was to have played a rather significant role in the half marathon on May 2nd. This would be the half marathon that I, rather proudly, must say, ran 11 miles on Saturday to prepare for--without collapsing. (Though with more stiffness the next day than I really care to admit). But Sunday I did an ungraceful unintentional pirouette on the stairs that has me hobbling.

So, in the middle of this painful toe thing... (Did I mention that there were more than 25 people ahead of me in line at the minor emergency clinic--and that's before priorization. I'm no fool--sprained toes are well down the priority list--it might have been Thursday before I was seen. Forget that.) Anyways, in the middle of the afternoon with this painful toe thing, as I have a half hour of time to kill, an almost empty computer battery, and some electronic marking to do, I stopped at a local KFC for a soda and an electrical outlet. I hunkered down to the grading, and then he came.

He. Donald. Age 7. Adult teeth--too big for his little mouth, and in various stages of arrival that gave him this curious, beguiling grin. He hopped up in the chair across from me and started talking. It seemed he'd driven in from the out of town for some medical appointment. While what I thought were his grandparents were ordering their food, he chatted with me--whether I wanted to or not. (I did not want to) Told me about his school (didn't like it), favorite subject (gym), and a recent field trip into Winnipeg (I didn't quite follow that one). Told me that the people were his mom and dad, not grandparents (Oops on my part). His mom grinned at him and I as she went to the table, not seeming at all surprised at Donald's choice to visit with a stranger. A while later he scampered off for his chicken and fries...freeing me to work (or so I thought). Letting me get back to the work that I so needed to get done (or so I thought).

Donald came back a few minutes later. After a few more random disclosures, he told me that his "real" mom had died when he was 2, and his "real" dad had also died in a violent tragedy, which he nonchalantly described. He couldn't remember his dad, but sorta remembered his mom. He told the tale of how CFS had placed him with his current family. Then he told me about the sister he had with this family. He wants to be a taxi driver when he grows up. He asked me some questions about my computer and my family. He showed me how a person plays badminton. The work I had to do suddenly seemed insignificant as the two of us talked openly with each other in a refreshing and innocent way, he more honest than any adult.

Suddenly, my toe seemed something to giggle about. The marathon--a minor missed opportunity that will come again. The other "downs" lately...chump change compared to the challenges little Donald has and will face. He didn't seem to be aware of the courage he had to face the day, or the pluck he demonstrated in choosing to visit with a stranger, or the matter-of-fact way he faces his life. The conversation changed from an annoying interruption to a life lesson and a new friend.

Half hour over--time to move on. I stopped by his table on my way out to greet his parents, and compliment Donald with them on his charming demeanor. And I headed out to my car. I had the engine running and was about to pull out when I saw him running up in my rear view mirror. One word, with outstretched arms: "Hug". A quick embrace, and he was gone again.

I had a fun evening gait is neither comfortable nor quick, but there was an unexpected lightness to it. Thank you, Professor Donald.


Brandy said...

isn't it interesting how situations like this put life into perspective. thanks for sharing.

Kara said...

Isn't it amazing how kids have such a profound, yet innocent way of teaching us life lessons? I hope your toe heals quickly - there seem to be a couple of broken/sprained toes around these days.