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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Walk It Off

I think the boys were about three and four years old.  I wanted to run into Michael's and buy them some waterproof magic markers.  One of my sofa cushions had fallen victim to a purple Sharpie.  To this day, Brother swears he didn't do it on purpose.  How somebody can draw a smiley face with curly hair on the furniture - completely by accident - is beyond me.

We found ourselves in the dollar aisle, with Desmond and Bro raking through the metal bins jammed full of impulse purchase options.  Invariably finding that creepy latex chicken, the one you squeeze and an angry prolapse appears out its rectum.   I hate that thing.

We came upon a woman in a wheelchair.  From the back, nothing remarkable about her physical condition. But as we passed, I realized that Desmond was intrigued.  He grabbed my arm.
"Mommy, what's wrong with that lady?" he whispered so loudly, the folks eating lunch at Five Guys next door probably heard him.
"Honey, I don't know," I told him.  "Please keep your voice down.  We don't want to make her feel uncomfortable."
"I know," he said.  "But that leg…"  He drifted off, reaching into a basket filled with sponges shaped like dinosaurs.

My children are very loud, and I am even louder.  There is something missing from our genetic code that prevents us from murmuring softly.  Our volume buttons have been busted since birth.  We must yell and shout, or we will surely die.

I love when my children ask questions.  Their curiosity about the unknown is fun and infectious.  I'm glad when they come to me with their inquiries.  It makes me feel smart, especially when I actually know the answers.  Yet often times, what interests one doesn't even come up on the other guy's radar.
"Watch this bubble, Mom," Rory exclaimed.  "It pops out the bird's hiney!  This is so gross."
"Yes, Brother.  That chicken is something else," I admitted.  It wasn't exactly a lie.
"We really need to move it along.  I think Daddy's in danger."  Now, that  was a lie.

At the register, the object of Desmond's fascination rolled up behind us, meeting his gaze.
"Hello there," the woman ventured as my junior achiever unselfconsciously stared at her situation.
"Yes," he replied.
"How are you?" she asked, obviously hoping for conversation.
"I'm Desmond."
"Oh, my.  That's a wonderful name," she said.  I signed my receipt and gathered up my shopping bag.  That's when I heard the million dollar question.
"Hey, Lady.  Where'd you get that robot leg?"
I squeezed my eyes shut right there at the counter and braced myself for her reaction.

Mrs. Mobility proceeded to tell my son about her juvenile onset diabetes, a subject she was extremely passionate about.  Her diagnosis several years prior, at the height of her school crossing guard career.  The unfair dietary restrictions and her penchant for chocolate gelato.  The loss of circulation to her extremities, a gangrenous big toe and three painstaking operations undergone in efforts to save her beloved foot.  These surgeries all performed for naught, as indicated by the magnificent prosthetic that began at the base of her kneecap.  Alas, her metier in student safety was over.

Wow.  Perhaps a little too much information for someone just going into Kindergarten, but it seemed as though this elderly girl simply wanted someone to talk to.  And Desmond Henry just happened to be standing there with his mouth hanging open.

"Okay, my dears," I encouraged both kids.  "Let's say goodbye for now."
"I have to go," Des told his new friend.  He gave her a hug as we left the store.

When we got outside, I searched my son's face to make sure he was not upset by the gruesome details of this old woman's experience.  We walked together to the car, and I waited for him to say something.  He  climbed into his seat and stared out the window.
"Sweetheart, are you okay?" I finally asked.
"Yes, I am," he assured me.  He was clearly preoccupied.
"What's the matter?  You can tell Mommy."
"It's just that I would love to have one of those legs," Desmond said.

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