“Look mommy, it’s short and fat!” Caleb was a normal 4-year-old, curious and observant about all things, especially animals.
“No honey, the giraffe is tall and skinny,” his mother, Meg, shook her head, exhausted about trying to correct the way that Caleb saw things. “See look at those wild boars, they’re short and fat!”
“They’re skinny!” Caleb’s brown eyes lit up. He ran over to the fence to look at the boars. Other kids, were shouting and pointing because the boars were running around, chasing each other. Meg overheard a few other kids telling their parents that the boars were skinny. One dad turned to look at Meg and shook his head as his daughter kept repeating what she thought she saw. He took her by the hand and walked her out of the city zoo. Meg knew that she was a special child, just like Caleb.
Oh that poor dad, Meg thought. She didn’t know how to make it stop either. From the day that Caleb came into her life she had been training him the way that the parenting magazines had advised. Her husband did, too. They were doting parents. She thought she had done everything right but once he started speaking they were constantly at odds. Caleb saw the world in opposites. If she said the water was wet, he would say it’s dry. He was a different kind of child but becoming more common. They told her that Caleb would lead a normal life.
“Let’s go sweetie,” Meg motioned to Caleb, exhausted and racking her brain on what to do. The repeated trips to the zoo didn’t seem to be working. She brought him there to work with him on his perception just as the school counselor advised. He would never get into the top elementary school at this rate just like he failed to get into the top preschool. She currently had him registered in an average preschool. Her poor child would have no future.
“No, we just got here,” he whined.
“Mommy forgot that she has a haircut appointment,” Meg said the first thing that popped into her head.
“No, no hasta mañana,” Caleb looked her straight in the eyes. How does he know that? She thought. He must have overhead on the phone. Caleb spoke fluent Spanish because of the lessons he had been taking since he was very young. At least this time she knew what he was saying. She didn’t speak Spanish.
“Umm . . .for Coco,” Meg stammered and then blamed it on the dog. Why did she feel like she had to defend herself? Maybe it was because he truly was a brilliant child, but saw the world differently. How would he fit in? She took his little hand and turned to leave. Caleb stood like an anchor on the cement. She could tell that he knew that Coco’s trim was always scheduled on the first Saturday of the month. “You want ice cream?” she teased to which he jumped and nearly dragged her to the car.
Meg luckily found a parking spot in front of the ice cream parlor. It was a busy neighborhood in the city not far from their house. They lived near the primo neighborhood in the city. Close but not quite the area. Her child was near perfect, but not perfect. Why were things just out of reach for her? It could be so frustrating.
As they got out of the car, Caleb’s piano teacher shouted hello to them. Caleb ran up to him and told him that they were getting ice cream. He asked Caleb if he had been practicing for the upcoming recital. Caleb’s brown hair bounced as he shook his head up and down. The teacher was asking out of niceties because Caleb was a natural musician. The upcoming recital was for the age group older than Caleb but he needed to advance so he wouldn’t be bored.
Once in the ice cream shop, Caleb peered into the glass of the ice cream counter. Meg relaxed because she knew the girl behind the counter would amuse Caleb.
“I want the orange one,” Caleb announced as the girl with the long dreadlocks came up to say hello. She had a bright red scarf in her hair. He pointed to the blue ice cream.
“This orange one, sweetie?” She asked as she held the ice cream scoop and cone in her hand. “What about this orange one?” she teased and pointed to the chocolate.
“Not that one, this one,” he pointed again to the blue. The girl giggled and scooped a ball of ice cream for Caleb. Meg handed him the cone and he bit into it.
“Honey, that’s cold, you’re going to get a headache,” Meg watched as he chomped away at the ice cream.
“It’s hot,” he mumbled between bites. Meg shook her head and rolled her eyes. She handed the money to the girl.
“I’ve seen this a lot lately. Frustrated parents. But you know, someone told me that you have to let the child be free to his own opinions. Life will be easier,” she smiled and took the money. “Sorry if I’m overstepping.”
“No, at this point I’m open to any advice. But I’m concerned that he won’t fit in,” Meg bit her lip with a serious look.
“Look at me, I don’t think that’s so important,” she tugged at her hair and beamed.
Meg laughed and shook her head. Maybe this girl was right. She thanked her and they left the ice cream shop.
Meg pulled out of the parking spot and and up to the stop light. As she looked in the rear view mirror, she could see that Caleb had ice cream all over his face. He had just stuffed the last of his cone in his mouth. She smiled and then looked up and noticed a car speeding up behind her. He’s not going to stop!
There was no time to react. The car slammed into the back of her car sending them into the bumper of the car in front of her. Meg opened her eyes and felt okay, but then turned quickly to the backseat. Caleb had shut down. His eyeballs were not in their sockets.
“Oh, god I heard that this could happen,” she started shaking and crying uncontrollably.
To be continued . . .