Honestly, I don’t think they should let people like me in to playgrounds. Not with my lastima-disability.
It’s too ripe here. All these little bodies running around, skipping around, farting around, without that adult editing-button set to HIGH VOLUME. They aren’t aware of who thinks what or how to be cool or how to make more money than the next guy. They sing and they play and they eat Goldfish and they are who they are. That’s it. And it’s amazing.
My bare feet are on the plush, foamy flooring and I race to catch my niece and nephew do everything. They turn a fake steering wheel or jump from a step, and I’m riveted. That’s when I see him out of the corner of my eye. I should’ve put my shoes back on. I should’ve turned to go. But I didn’t.
His father has him by the elbow. It isn’t a mean grip, it’s a life-lesson grip, and he’s crying and his face is broken. He’s in a hot pink shirt and shorts, he even has white socks on with his sneakers. He is the kind of child who will be easy to make fun of, and I see his future full of hurt. I want to protect him. I want to be his Superman. He’s a stranger, but my lastima is on HIGH VOLUME because I can tell that he has let his parents down. And that he can’t bear it.
I almost run over until I remember that it isn’t appropriate to hug a kid you don’t know or to reprimand an adult you’ve never seen before. So I just stare at him for minutes as he sulks and wails on the bench. Then I’m distracted by my nephew climbing a rope and my niece twirling, and I’m so happy to be present with them again. Quickly I glance back so that I can keep my eye on this prey-child, yet he is gone. He is laughing now, back on the pirate ship, unaware of the burdens I know. He is better off. And my shoes are nowhere to be found.
p.s. Watching my niece and nephew play is like a balm to the soul.