PHOTO:Perceptions.jpgCAPTION: Out of the mouths of babes. How the childhood sweetness and perceptions of a small boy could create smiles on the faces of a dozen other people within his world.
Grocery store. Drug store. Car wash. Library. Just some of the half dozen or so stops on a busy pre-holiday weekend. Family was coming over for the Easter holiday, and we were tagged as the host destination. Well, I could pretend to grumble about that, but I'd by disingenuous if I did. Because we love it when the kids and the family get together at our place. Any old excuse is good enough for the McCain house when it comes to family and big tasty holiday meals and such.
That's from where the bus route known as store hop-scotching is derived. No city bus was slower, or made more stops, than a typical McCain shopping fest in anticipation of a holiday eating event. So forgive me if I was wound a little tight about it all. Step one: Drop Beth off at the closest locale to the front door, red painted curbs be darned (for a second or two, anyway!)… Then put on my NASCAR headset and play Beat the Granny to the closest parking space. I'm telling you, Beth's bribery of lunch at the Home Town Buffet loses its appeal after the fourth Sumo Match of the day over the elusive car parking spot. I'm serious when I tell Beth we need to buy a helicopter.
So, surly me sat in the car with the windows cracked like a loyal golden retriever as Beth zigzagged the aisles of our local big box (them kids of ours do know how to eat!) when I witnessed something that will forever be in my heart. Worthy of one of those "Last Thoughts" they describe when you're in the process of checking out of this big world. In fact, as I write this I once again feel the lump the size of a cue ball growing within the confines of my stout neck.
It happened like this: Dozens of shoppers were pushing their grocery laden buggies to and fro, performing what could be described as one of those musical flash mobs one sees on the internet these days. In this case, it was more of a crash mob as the frowning shoppers did all they could to avoid colliding with the cart pushers landing within their personal space. The scene got complicated when a gentleman in his fifties who had a very advanced case of cerebral palsy tried to make his way to the door through the bumper carts of groceries. The frowns got frownier as the push-carts were forced into all stop to let the man pass.
I'll tell you, it looked painful. The contortions the man went through just to put one foot in front of the other seemed so debilitating. He looked like a rag doll in a windstorm that would fall and blow away at any moment. Though he was doing well, I couldn't help but worry about him and wish him the best. And I hoped the other shoppers would cut him some slack. Then the bleakness and pity of the moment changed in an instant.
It happened that one of the aforementioned shopping carts came with a red headed, freckle faced four-year-old with a smile the size of the moon. He wasted no time noticing the man and pointed right at him. I cringed. Please, kid, don't make fun of the poor soul.
"Mommy, look! That man is dancing!" he said, with all of the innocent glee that only a boy of four could muster. Then he trotted over to the man and looked up at him square in the eye and said, "Boy, mister, you really are a very good dancer!"
The man smiled back and entered the store. The shopping carts stood still. And every wrinkled frown that had been displayed until that moment was immediately replaced by pure sunshine smiles. The kid had no idea. He just continued on, looking left and right and left again before giving his mother the all clear that it was okay to cross the ramp over to the parking lot.
So it is all about perceptions. The adults saw only the negative: A guy who was afflicted by some awful physical malady. The child saw dancing. And such a good dancer he was, said the boy.
Maybe it's time for us all to see the dancing. It certainly can't hurt. And it certainly didn't hurt that afternoon in a crowded and bustling parking lot full of overwrought consumers on a singular mission. So once again, out of the mouths of babes. You know, life isn't really all that complicated. Especially when there's dancing.