His mother was flabbergasted as she witnessed her son’s foot resting upon my thigh. As she began to chide him, I spoke up, reassuring her that it was totally fine and that the two of us had a bond.
Our bond formed when I had a seat upon one of the benches in the local Verizon store. I heard a small voice, but I was unable to understand what was being said.
My daughter informed me that the small child said I was sitting on his bed and he had been sleeping there. I immediately apologized and asked if it was OK for me to sit on the far end of the bench. He said yes as he climbed upon the bench and stretched out. He didn’t lie there long.
He sat up and pointed to various signs in the store and asked me if I could identify the image on the sign. I obliged. He talked more asking me my name.
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Beverly is difficult for a 4-year-old, so we took it syllable by syllable, slowly and then a little faster until he was able to say my name. He told me his name was Ethan and that he was 4 and had a little brother who would be one the next day.
Our bond grew when Ethan told me where he goes to school and asked where I went to school. He didn’t quite understand why it had been so long since I attended school, but I was happy to have that point lost in youthful bliss.
Processing all that we discussed, Ethan stretched out again and placed his left foot on my right thigh. He had on his cute little sandals which he and I determined were fun shoes because you can wear them in the water or just running through the back yard.
Hearing the shock in his mother’s voice, Ethan immediate sat up straight and sat as close to me as he could. I ensured his mother that I was not offended and in my view, his desire to have physical contact with me affirmed our bond. As Ethan sat near me, he asked about my rings. I informed that the ruby ring was given to me by my mother when I was 12. The others were purchased by me. He then asked about my bracelets. It is common for children to ask me about my rings but inquiry about my bracelets was a first.
I explained that the bracelets are made of a copper-brass blend and that I have worn them daily since age 21. I struggled as I resisted the urge to give an age-appropriate history lesson on my Indigenous heritage and how John Lawson observed Indians in North Carolina wearing brass bracelets in 1700.
Completely surprising me, Ethan asked if he could try on one. As his mother started to speak up, I interjected “sure!”
I removed the bracelet from my right wrist and placed it on his right wrist. Ethan beamed with pride stating “I like this.” He jumped off the bench and paced the floor observing the bracelet on his wrist. Upon his mother’s encouragement, Ethan gave back the bracelet. Within minutes, my little blonde, blue-eyed friend was gone.
Recognizing it is likely that I shall never see him again I thought: In a country riddled with so much racial discord, adults could learn a lesson from Ethan. The only thing that really separates us is ourselves.
Beverly Scarlett lives in Orange County.