Jonah

I’m hyper aware of the little kids and parents I observe. At the Princeton Junction train station, the parent of a two-year-old asked him or her “how she/he felt about that.” “Happy,” the kid answered. I think they were talking about eating chips. With feeling words, I guess you have to start somewhere. I hope someday, many days, you tell me you are happy.
Then on our corner, a little boy named Jonah was terrified to cross the street. If a car was even on the street, he didn’t want to move. I found out later that before I had reached the corner, his mother had said hello to your father and then said, “Look, he has a stick like grandpa.” Of course, James being James did not correct her. I use correction sparingly myself, but he never uses it, thereby losing a lot of teaching moments. You will know it’s a cane. Anyway, Jonah’s mother asked him why he was scared to cross the street when he hadn’t been scared before, and he said he needed to get bigger. I pictured us there, waiting for years on the street corner while Jonah grew up. I would have my baby right behind him, the seasons would turn and turn, sort of like the movies, and you, too, would wait for Jonah to get big enough to stop fearing the cars. Jonah’s mother told him he was just fine the way he was, and he was almost four. Finally she urged him across, saying, “There’s a plane in the sky, but there are no cars.” When we crossed the street, the mother asked Jonah, without asking me first, whether he wanted to pet the dog. “He’s a special dog,” she explained. “He has really good eyes and helps the woman, because she can’t see very well.”
I know that visual impairment, not blindness, is the default assumption and explanation, and I have to smother my impulse to think people are sugar-coating every time they say I’m visually impaired. After all, she really had no idea. But wouldn’t it have been easier to tell the kid my eyes are broken?
Predictably, given his earlier fears, Jonah did not want to touch the dog. So we just said good-bye and walked our separate ways.

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2 comments

  1. I was so happy to wake up this morning and have all of these blog posts come through from you. I love the way you write and hope you will somehow have time to update when the baby has arrived. Your love for him is palpable and moving and lovely. Thank you!

    • I actually wrote the posts over several days but weighed in for a while about which ones to post and which ones to keep to myself. So they weren’t all written in marathon as the dates indicate. 🙂 I’ll definitely update when the baby arrives. Thank you very much for reading and commenting!

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