Wearing a mask like fastening your seatbelt is pretty much a given where I live. In addition, because I can be cautious, I’m rarely out, but last Thursday I did meet my daughter-in-love at Filoli Gardens.
You need a reservation and there were very few people there but as we left, a mother with her two children passed us in the parking lot. The children were probably five and four, and the older one, a little girl wore a dinosaur mask and the little boy a rainbow.
I exclaimed, and they came closer and closer as we talked until their mother warned them to stop. They loved my glittery mask and though I saw it as an abstract design, they saw different things in it and excitedly and carefully pointed them out.
The children and their mother have stayed with me. It was a heart connection. Their mother says nobody talks to them, and I said, “And I don’t see children.” We all just stood there, attached with strings of love.
Tears come to my eyes even now as it meant so much to all of us. Of course, in normal times, it would have been more crowded, and we probably would have passed each other unnoticed, but there we were, as though we were the only people in the world, reaching out for communication and trusting that being so close, with our masks, was safe.
This morning I woke from a dream – again, two children, and we were talking, and the little girl kept getting closer and closer to me, until her mother said to me, “Don’t touch her.” Of course even in the old days, I wouldn’t have thought of touching a child I just met and didn’t really know but last week’s experience has stayed with me enough to haunt my dreams.
I love to sit by a playground and watch children. Last week, a playground opened near where my son lives, and he took my almost one year old grandchild. There are rules, masks, and only one child at a time on a play structure, but it was grandchild’s first time getting to climb and go through tunnels.
I can find advantages in all of this. Both of his parents work from home. He would never have had as much contact with them without this, and it’s a gift for them, too, and what does it all mean?
Perhaps it means we value each interaction even more than before. Nothing is taken for granted. One playground near me is now open, again with rules.
Each generation grows up differently. I pray this one is learning the value of connection, interaction, gratitude for the moment, and the value of touch and trust.