Posts Tagged ‘Elspeth Huxley’

How much does one imagine, how much observe? One can no more separate those functions than divide light from air, or wetness from water. Elspeth Huxley

My granddaughter Rebe and I go to a small local park. She has brought four of her children, dolls of varying sizes crammed into a single doll carrier.

When we arrive we see another woman holding an infant surrounded by five to seven children as well as a dog tied to a bench. The older children seem to be attending to the younger; I assume that the group is part of some kind of daycare but don’t ask. The woman has enough to handle.

One young man, who could be twelve-years-old tops, attends to a boy on a baby swing. The smaller child appears to be approximately two.

“Is he your little brother?” I ask.

“No, he’s my step sister’s baby,” the boy says. He stops pushing the little one on the swing and grabs an adjoining swing. When the baby swing slows and the little boy whines, Rebe pushes him.  I had considered pushing the little guy, but decided to wait until he became accustomed to my presence. Sometimes children are afraid of strange adults. Kids accept kids immediately.

“Thanks,” the older boy tells Rebe. He pumps his swing higher and then quickly lowers himself when my granddaughter decides to play elsewhere.

“You take good care of him,” I say.

He looks at me as if forming an unspoken response, but doesn’t share his thoughts. Something in his eyes startles me, a look suggesting complexity beyond his years.

A few minutes later the woman carrying the baby, leads the other children toward a shelter down a slight hill. The boy jumps from the swing mid-air, and then hands the little boy a cell phone, perhaps to distract him. “Got to go now,” he says.

The child in the swing shakes his head.

“Come on,” he says gently. “We have to go.” He lifts the toddler from the swing and puts him in a stroller.

I smile at the boys, in a reserved kind of way. I don’t know this pair’s story, not sure what I need to say—In fact, I sense that the caretaker doesn’t want to talk. I don’t know the boys’ names! Perhaps the older child is babysitting for an hour. Perhaps this situation is an everyday, overwhelming task.

The older boy pushes the stroller out of the park.

Rebe runs to the slide with her dolls and drops them down, one at a time. Our middle granddaughter hasn’t begun first grade yet. Her everyday world is relatively simple.Today she creates scenarios where we need to dive from play equipment into shark-and-alligator-infested water. Rebe magically turns into a mermaid. Then without warning, our six-year-old innocent child becomes Rebe again when she decides it is time to leave for lunch.

I am grateful for one-on-one time with my granddaughter, yet sad because I was not prepared to meet the young man and his step-sister’s son at the park. Perhaps I could have been helpful, perhaps not. Life’s whole does not belong to me.  Rebe tells me later that she loves me as much as the whole world and back again. If I could have one wish I would zap that kind of love around. But, I don’t know any genies, so with just one day at a time, guess I’m going the slow, uncertain route.

In the meantime I trust the evidence and my gut. Sometimes I will be right-on. Other times I won’t know one way or the other. I am only one small part of a very large whole.

everyone fighting a batle

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