I was at Border’s the other night, looking up a book a new friend had suggested, when one of the workers came over to the area in which I was sitting to look up a book for a customer. The customer was a mom with her young son. The son was probably 3 years of age and his mother obviously new him well, because she was VERY aware where he was at all times. Her conversation with the sales associate was interspersed with, “Stay close Maddox…”, “Don’t go over there, Maddox…”, a continual verbal corral that she was trying to build around the actions of her son. She was kind in her direction, hoping, I’m sure to protect both him and the privacy of the other silent customers scattered throughout the bookstore.
When they came into my section, Mom’s and Maddox’s eyes found the same target simultaneously: a ladder hanging by wheels on a long horizontal pole above the bookshelves. A ladder meant for use by employees of Border’s to retrieve and stock books on the higher shelves. The reason I knew it was meant for employees to use was because there was a sign hanging from one of the rungs upon which was written just that information. Maddox approached the ladder at the same time Mom stated, “Now Maddox…” Maddox didn’t try to climb the ladder, but looked with wonder at the height, his eyes following up and up and up. To his mind, the ladder must have looked like it was made by Jacob himself. He didn’t try to get on, but his finger gingerly touched the sign, rattling it on the chain upon which it hung. I thought, “Isn’t it interesting he can’t read the sign, yet softly flicks the symbol that limits his freedom. As if saying quietly to himself, ‘If I could, I would…’ ”
Turning, Maddox found me watching him. Rather than smile and engage me in conversation, a strange half-smile/half-scowl came over his face and he immediately ran to his mother and stood behind her, keeping her body between himself and my gaze. I kept watching him and as soon as he would peek around her body, I would immediately look away, as if afraid he would see me. Eventually, this became a sort of game for him and he began to get friendlier, coming around his mother’s body and creeping closer to me. After a few seconds of this game, I smiled and asked him what his name was.
“Maddox,” he replied proudly.
“That’s a great name!” I responded.
He was carrying a stuffed animal… a greeeeeen bear that looked like a Care Bear.
“That’s a cool bear,” I said. “What’s his name?”
“His name is ‘Oopsie Bear’ and he has a mouth, and a nose, and a tie-dye shirt, and…”
We started having this great conversation about his bear and his mother said, “Ok Maddox, that’s enough,” and then to me, “He can be overwhelming sometimes…”
” He’s fine,” I said, and we continued to talk until his mom and the sales associate decided they either didn’t have the book she had wanted or that it wasn’t in that section. So Maddox, Oopsie Bear and Mom left.
I loved that conversation. Once Maddox got over his first impulse to be afraid of the stranger looking at him, he became very engaging and full of life and energy in telling a new person about his bear. The two of us shared a fun moment.
I love it when things like that happen!