A little girl was playing nearby with a couple of boys. The boys ran off to play somewhere else and L went up to the little girl. L began smiling at the little girl and making noises. She was trying to say "hi" over and over again, but the little girl just stared at her. I remained nearby, not interjecting unless I was needed. I could see the little girl's wheels turning. Staring, then glancing at me nearby, then staring back at L. The next time the girl looked at me, I said "she is trying to say hi to you but has trouble speaking." The little girl stared once more, then said "I want to play with someone else." I didn't know if I had heard her correctly so I said excuse me, and she repeated it once more, then turned and left L standing there by herself.
L didn't know that the little girl had been mean to her. L simply waved her good-bye and went running to the swings. No big deal.
But my heart split in two. I asked my husband for the keys to the car and bolted out of there. I made it halfway across the playground, sunglasses on, before tears spilled down my cheeks.
I sat in the car sobbing. I admit it, I had a big, fat, ugly pity party. Yes, L didn't know what had happened. But she will someday. This was just a preview of what likely will happen in future years. Why does my child, who has had to fight to survive, now have to struggle to communicate? Why does my child have to face so many challenges and obstacles to live? Can anything come easily to her? I don't wish these things on anyone else, but could God maybe even things out a bit so that families don't get struggle after struggle?
Then, I wiped those tears away, put my sunglasses back on, and went back to the playground.
I focused on the details. I pushed her on the swings and saw her smile. I listened to her giggle as she went down the slide by herself, and the ungraceful stomp as she ran to climb up and do it again. I felt her sticky fingers as she held my hand. I breathed in the fresh spring air and looked up at the sky as my eyes began drying up. I heard L yell a loud, excited "Mama" bringing me back to the here and now, watching her go down the slide once again.
We can't hide in our comfort zones. Some people are going to be great in response to L's differences, others won't. That's life. As much as I wish things came easily to my sweet girl, things like speech, health, I am reminded by looking at her that joy and love come easily to her. Be her friend, and she will be your biggest fan, laugh at all of your jokes, hug you, include you. And at the end of the day, those things matter.