The footsteps of another birth-year can be heard echoing down the corridor of age. All too soon, another birthday will rap its knuckles raw on my door, as I have become used to ignoring it for as long as I can since I turned 21.
While I’m dripping with melancholy from the whole I’m-becoming-one-year-older-again affair, I recall the youthful face of my precious one, whose 2nd birthday is approaching in less than 4 months’ time. His face is unlined, almost flawless, free from wrinkles, and the cares of the world.
I am the jaded one, the grown-up in our relationship. Matthew is the free spirit, without a care for the politics of being a human being. While my mind marvels at his carefree attitude to life, my heart aches for him, because very soon, he will no longer be too young to realise the cruelties of this society.
The three four of us went for a walk at the Henderson Waves last Saturday. Matthew was enjoying himself climbing onto the bench at the shelter, and running up and down along the length of the bench. Seeing how his face lit up and his signature goofy grin made me contented and happy on the inside. It was pure bliss.
We moved along the wooden bridge, and Matthew got excited whenever he spotted another shelter. He would then rush to clamber up the bench to begin his little game again.
All was well and happy till we reached a bench that was occupied by another family of 4, the 2 older toddlers enjoying a game of slide on the concave portion of the shelter.
Matthew, upon seeing the bench, made a beeline for it and started climbing up the bench. As he climbed up onto the bench, he turned and smiled a friendly greeting to one of the toddlers who was enjoying the improvised slide next to the bench.
The toddler, however, had a completely different reaction. She (I’m assuming it’s a she because I could not really tell) immediately got up and went whining loudly to the parents. “Mummy, the BOY is here. I don’t want him. Can we go?” She repeated it twice.
The Man and I were stunned when we heard that. At that moment, I recalled Matthew’s innocent smile as he climbed onto the bench, and I had a tiny heart break. My heart ached that he was so rudely rejected. By a complete and young stranger not much older than him. Luckily he remained oblivious that he had been publicly scorned.
The parents remained silent throughout their child’s whining. Feeling indignant, we called out to Matthew to leave and move on to another bench along the way. The parents still remained silent, as if oblivious not only to their daughter, but also to us.
I know how it felt to be ostracised, and I hated it. Never did I expect my offspring to experience the same at such a young age. I felt the pain washing over me; my heart was dipped in boiling oil. What has Matthew done to deserve this? I was glad I was the only one who felt the pain, and not Matthew. Such crushing remarks to a young life!
More importantly, why did the parents allow such remarks from their child to pass? What are they encouraging in their child, that discriminative and potentially hurting remarks are acceptable? That in future, as long as their child cannot stand someone, the child is allowed to make such comments? Gosh…
I may be over-reacting to this insignificant incident, and exaggerated the potentially disasterous consequences. But at least I now know what my reaction would be if my child(ren) ever make such remarks… What would you do?