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By Carolyn Primm
They say that a picture paints a thousand words. I wish I had a photo to share with you, but all I have is this picture in my head.
Several years ago, I joined my daughter and her two boys at my grandson, Grayson’s, karate lesson. While students were practicing their moves, parents and caregivers were allowed to watch the lesson through a large glass window. While we watched Grayson practice his moves with one eye, we kept the other eye focused on his little brother, Walker. Walker was doing his own little trippity trot moves in the small space around us.
Walker investigated the water fountain, and entertained himself by peeking around the furniture at us. He poked his chubby fingers in every inviting crevice. As I was watching the lesson, an elderly Asian man, sitting behind us, was watching Walker. The elderly gentleman was obviously delighted by the little guy’s inquisitiveness. Noticing that we had noticed him, the elderly man looked tentatively at Mitzi with an “Is it okay if I interact with him?” expression.
Getting the go ahead smile, the man held his hand out to Walker in an attempt to allow the little fellow to deliver a high five.
Instead, Walker gently rested his chubby little hand on the man’s palm, and looked up inquisitively. The man curled his aged fingers around Walker’s small hand as both gazed for a delicious, trust-investigating moment into one another’s eyes.
Then, Walker moved away. Keeping his focus on the old man, he side-stepped over to his diaper bag and retrieved his Elmo book. The man kept a kind, steady gaze upon the small boy.
Clutching his book, and seeing that the man’s gaze was still upon him, Walker trotted quickly back to his new-found friend.
Walker lifted his arms to indicate that he coveted a seat on the old gentleman’s lap. The man’s eyes twinkled with delight, as he lifted Walker to his lap, and smiled down on Walker; brown eyes meeting blue.
With another glance at Mitzi to confirm his actions were acceptable, the old gentleman settled back in his chair. Walker, too, relaxed, his little round head resting comfortably on the old man’s chest. Soon, the two were fully engrossed in looking at the book; each pointing at the pictures and smiling recognition into the other’s face. Walker identified the pictures in two-year-old “Walker” English.
The elderly man identified the same in Chinese. Neither the elderly gentleman nor the toddler seemed to notice the difference in their languages. Their eyes sparkled. Nothing around them registered, except their joint contentment in one another’s company.
A lady near us, noticing the two, and also noticing our special interest in the pair, leaned over and whispered, “Isn’t that just the sweetest thing!” The elderly man entertained Walker, and vice versa, until the practice ended, at which time, the two looked up at one another, in renewed awareness of their surroundings. In a knowing exchange, Walker tucked his book under his arm. The man lifted Walker off his lap, setting him down gently on the floor. Then, trippity trot, Walker rejoined his family.
This picture that I carry in my head and have now shared with you, reminds me that regardless of age, or culture, trust and admiration are a universal language.