This little boy sat in the water, cooling off from the heat, directly on top of a water spout. How old does he look to you?
He loved the feel of the cold water, contrasted with the ninety-eight-degree temperature of the day. There were other children in the fountain – running, splashing, yelling, having fun. But this little guy just sat in the water. He didn’t need much; just to be there was enough. I asked around until I found his mother, and got permission to take the picture. I mentioned that I had children and grandchildren, and I thought her son was adorable. She looked at me, hesitated, then nodded OK, without saying a word.
After posting the picture on Facebook, I received comments from people all over the country. They wrote things like Cute, Adorable, Smart, Awww, and Can I Adopt Him. I “liked” every response.
A year later, I still wonder about him from time to time. What’s his life like? Has he grown much? What’s his family like? Does he ever go back to that fountain?
And I wonder about his future, too. What will become of him? Will he like school? What sports will he want to play? What kind of music? What does he want to do when he grows up? Although that may change a hundred times during his childhood.
Then, in light of recent stories in the news, I wonder if he’ll turn out to be a good kid who grows into a fine young man, or if he’ll get into trouble along the way. Will he ever be shot at by a gang, a friend, or a policeman? These thoughts are very real in America these days, and I wonder about this little guy.
I also wonder about my own grandchildren. One of my sons married a black woman, and they have children. I know their interests, their likes and dislikes, their preferences, what they want to be when they grow up. My eight-year-old granddaughter wants to be a doctor. Her five-year-old brother wants to be Buzz Lightyear or Spiderman, depending on the time of day, of course. They love school and learning. They love being part of a congregation of faith. They like movies, and playing family games. Life hasn’t turned ugly for them, yet. But it could. Hate is a powerful force in America. Racism is still prevalent. Unkindness lurks.
I wonder how they might turn out, too. Will they fulfill their dreams? Will they get into trouble? Will they ever be the victims of prejudice or injustice? Will they have to defend themselves simply because their skin is darker, or their hair gives them away? Might they be subject to racial profiling some day? So far, they respect adults and those in authority such as teachers, pastors, and police officers. Will they ever find their trust betrayed? Will they ever be afraid of being shot by someone they trust?
When I finished my lunch appointment and walked back to my car, the little boy was gone. His mother must have decided he’d been in the fountain long enough. He probably needed lunch. Perhaps it was nap time. Maybe she needed to go to work.