My four year-old, Cholita is a darling, wonderful girl. She can also be loud and blunt–sometimes bordering on obnoxious. Sometimes she’s way past the border, with her feet firmly planted in Obnoxious Land.
Last year we were in a waiting room that serves several different clinics at a large children’s hospital. It’s the type of place where your heart aches for the hardships some children have to bear, the type of place where you count your blessings. Cholita was sitting at a table, coloring a picture of Barney the Dinosaur, when a little girl of about 4 or 5 sat down across from her. One side of her head showed the face of a beautiful Asian girl. The other side was hugely disfigured. I know Cholita. I know she doesn’t mince words. If she saw her, she’d say something–something innocent but hurtful. I silently prayed that Cholita wouldn’t notice, knowing that she would. Sure enough, she looked up and stared. She squinted her eyes like she was trying to readjust her focus. The girl pulled her hair across the side of her face and looked down at her paper. Cholita leaned over, chest on the table, and peeked up under the girl’s hair. Her mother, seated next to me in an armchair, set the hospital clipboard on her lap and watched. I literally held my breath and prayed. Please don’t hurt this little girl’s feelings.
Cholita settled herself back into her chair and opened her mouth to speak. I moved closer, ready to offer gum. “You want to share my crayons?” she said. The girl nodded and they giggled and passed crayons back and forth. I breathed. The mother smiled, “Looks like you made a friend,” she said to her daughter.