I took the short cut and was powering through the local park to pick up a much needed coffee. At the last minute I decided to detour towards the swings, slides and mums huddled chatting with kids squealing. A quick rest for Mia to have some time out of her wheelchair on my lap and a little breather might be best.
Wearing a big floppy hat (my sensitive skin doesn't agree with UV) sunnies and ear buds stuffed in my ears (I'd been multitasking and taking some calls while I pushed Mia in her wheelchair) I was slightly incognito and cocooned in my own shields. How ingenious I thought congratulating myself - a little apprehension and dread crept over me on my approach but I felt a bit more protected - how would we be received today? We've had plenty of previous experiences to make our entrance with slight trepidation. Accustomed to what feels like jaw dropping looks of horror followed by people backing away or looking intensely busy, or the naturally curious child who gets scolded for staring as the embarrassed parent grabs their child and heads for the hills. I get it. It happens you don't know what to say all the time. Kind people occasionally handle things awkwardly and don't know what to do or you have an off day and others I presume are just scared. I've been there too and done an abysmal job at handling the situation. I still flush thinking about the time my son demanded at the top of his voice in a tiny little cafe for me to "Mummy! look at that big fat man eating all that breakfast - his tummy touches the table" it's embarrassingly horrible and it's not much easier on the other side
We found a shady spot on a bench at the edge of the playground and I smiled, unconsciously attempting to show everyone we were friendly - promise we won't bite! I parked Mia next to me and got comfy on the bench and started to pull down some of my shields. A blue eyed blonde haired 2 year old stood a safe distance away from us staring curiously - I beamed at him and in my friendly sing song voice I said "this is Mia you can come and say hello if you like, how old are you buddy?" A beautiful young woman full of warmth and enthusiasm encouraged him a few steps closer and we started chatting it was easy. Her charge looked a little bit bewildered but with some encouragement from their vivacious nanny we were having fun exchanging introductions and noticing how similar Mia's name was to the little boys big sisters, they reached out and touched Mia's hand and we continued with the regular playground mum/carer banter.
The lovely mum sitting alongside me joined us and the conversation flowed as the bright nanny bounded away to play and chase. We both enviously commented on how fantastic she was and kept chatting. We shared our stories and started bonding. She commented on how beautiful my daughter was and seemed genuinely interested. After our bonding session we exchanged numbers and hugged - at this point I cried and we both confessed how much we'd enjoyed meeting each other and promised to catch up for coffee
A beautiful duo about 5 and 3 approached us babbling excitedly. The older girl was talking emphatically and explaining something that seemed very important for us to know. Her father from across the park shouted "she doesn't speak English" to which I responded cheekily "nor does Mia" both the little boy and girl continued to chat to us in Greek and embraced engaging with Mia eagerly, stroking her arm and holding her hand and telling her wonderful stories. With some translations back and forth from dad and holding up fingers we discovered Mia being 6 was only one year older than the friendly little 5 year old girl. Their affection and warmth was palatable and they had some beautiful little 'conversations' and Mia adored the attention and affection.
As we wheeled out of the playground I said goodbye to the Greek dad and told him how friendly and beautiful his children were - only having arrived in Australia a week ago they were living in a family home which was apparently beautiful but a broken oven that had already cost $600 to repair unsuccessfully some general chaos and disrepair on top of not knowing anything he relayed. He was breezy and confident and seemed unperturbed, possibly elated about this new situation, his gorgeous children following in suit were adventurous and had no qualms making new friends with or without a common language. Waving goodbye to the little boy and girl we said we hoped to see them at the park again soon.
Stories of our love, heartache and friendship. Written by a mother.