Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Watching the shadows

By Louise Kinross

I found something that my son and I love to do.

It involves going for a leisurely walk up to our local shops. We stop at a number of benches along the way to rest and watch the people go by.

In the past my son wouldn't do this walk because of pain in his legs and the trip is still a major exertion for him.

But on the weekend I convinced him to do it twice on days with a cool breeze, and we spent a couple of hours out every time.

He likes a gem shop and asks me to say the names of each of the stones on display. Quartz is his favourite and this last time he bought a small clear globe which the cashier put in a tiny brown bag.

Then we went to the book shop, where he can easily spend an hour moving his favourite chair progressively down one aisle as he peruses the books. He loves the Tintin series so we bought The Shooting Star for his camping trip.

We frequent this store regularly and know the staff so I feel comfortable that they understand and tolerate his differences, including some of the sounds he makes as a non-speaker. I can leave him to look for my own books.

After a very long session we decided to leave. I told him I was putting a magazine back at the front of the store and left him sitting at the back. When I came back he was gone.

My first feeling was happiness: he must have gone out the back door himself! In the past he wouldn't have had the strength to push open this door and he wouldn't have even tried. He would have waited for me. 

Then, mild panic.

I darted out and saw him sitting on a bench tapping a man's arm and gesturing that he wanted to show him what he had in his brown paper bag.

"Ben!" I called. "What are you doing?"

I sat down beside him and said: "Do you want to show this man what you bought?"

He nodded yes, opened the bag and unwrapped the tissue paper to reveal the small clear globe. The man, who was a bit odd himself, smiled.

I was happy that he wanted to connect with someone but afraid of his vulnerability. I later mentioned that you had to be careful who you sat with or approached because some people were bad.

I couldn't imagine him ever being able to do the walk on his own, but, nevertheless, I pointed out all of the street names to him and he certainly knows the route.

He was delighted when the sun came out and he could watch his shadow walking beside him.

At first I couldn't understand what he was gesturing to on the ground. Both of our shadows were right there, clear as day, but I couldn't "see" them. I guess shadows no longer register with me as natural wonders worthy of observation and enjoyment. After much enthusiastic pointing, I finally got it.

"Oh, the shadows! Your shadow. Yes, there it is. Very cool." I took the time to really look at how his shadow followed him.

We stopped to sit on a bench on the way home. There was a pleasant wind to cool us and nothing to do but watch the endless stream of people go by. It seemed like we could sit there, he and I, forever.


Ahhhh, letting go .... of everything. Thank you for this beautiful story of your day.

Does Ben have a digital camera? He might enjoy taking it with him on walks and capturing some of the things he enjoys. Even taking pictures of shadows can be fun.

Such a lovely post -- it felt as if we were in your head and then Ben's. And it was magical, really.

What a beautiful description of your day adventuring with Ben! It seems like we all have something to learn from Ben-- we can find joy in the things we often overlook, like shadows! What a wonderful thing for him to appreciate! And a great way to start my day today!