Setting: Pool at the Y
Preface: A fun night of swimming to work off a little energy and have some fun together.
We moved quickly from the Family Changing Room to the pool area. We arrived in the middle of the 10 minute break so we moved to the bench to wait for the blow of the whistle.
The boys moved back and forth between the clock on the wall and our seats. I sat on the bench people watching.
That’s when I spotted him.
He was tall and skinny. He was wandering the pool in his black swim trunks with his arms close to his sides like he was shivering – though he appeared dry from the waist up. He closely resembled Billy Bob Thornton in Deliverance. He was gazing around the room and appeared to stop on several children. I wanted to believe they were his children but my mommy radar told me something wasn’t right.
The whistle blew and we entered the pool. I was increasingly aware of his whereabouts in the pool. I watched him wander and scan the crowd. I noted that no children joined him. I saw him approach a couple of children and I saw their parents move in.
He wandered over to the area of the pool where the fountains are. He spent the next 15 minutes standing over one of the fountains. He entertained a couple of children by making the water pop. Eventually he was there alone.
When the boys would move toward the fountains I would encourage them back to swim. Keegan went to the fountains and I sent my honey to get him. Something told me not to let him be there alone.
Then he started talking to himself and my heart sank.
What if this man has disabilities?
What if this man is as excited about water as my 4-year-old because his abilities resemble that of my son?
What if this man has mental health concerns that keep him from being able to socially interact with people in a way that is socially acceptable?
I suddenly felt ashamed.
I made a judgement. Whether or not it was correct, the fact remains that I made a judgement.
My mind went to Eli and all of his struggles.
No, he doesn’t compare to this man. Except that he may.
Eli has an “invisible disability”. People often judge his actions and judge me for the way I handle them. They don’t know what he goes through behind closed doors. They don’t know the amazing child I know or see the struggles I see.
I know to trust my gut. I’ve been told that in my personal life and my professional career. I listened to my gut tonight.
I don’t know that I’m happy that I did…