Mutual Appreciation

Yesterday, Eddie attended a field trip at a park. He had a chance to explore a variety of things in an entirely new environment. Of all the things at the park, I was most excited to have him ride the carousel. I thought he would enjoy the sensation of going around and around, and the carnival music that always accompanies the antique horses.

We had a lot of walking to do, and he did throw a fair amount of tantrums, which we simply worked him through. I kept thinking, if we could only get to the carousel, he would have a marvelous time. His balance wasn’t quite good enough to ride a moving horse, but I knew they had benches he could utilize. So, I just kept saying, “Wait until the carousel!” I figured with all the built up excitement, he would be thrilled to give it a try.

We did eventually make it to the carousel. Luckily, the attendant let us climb on to claim seats right as we arrived. After that, a flood of middle school students burst through the gate and crowded onto the horses. The noise level was unbelievable. Eddie was comfortably seated, next to a peer, with his hands clamped tightly over his ears. Then, the ride began to start.

I have to say I was waiting for shrieking, or some other form of protest. However, Eddie surprised me by staying quiet and attentive, with his ears adamantly protected. I did expect big smiles, and huge laughter. It turned out, I was just happy for him to sit quietly, even though there were no smiles or laughter of any kind. It turned out the carousel was pretty much a bust. Again I was reminded that Eddie is just completely unpredictable.

As we left the park, I was sad that the day appeared to be uneventful for him. I had built up the carousel in my mind, to something he would want to do repeatedly, and he didn’t even seem to enjoy it. I thought about how we had embarked on another adventure that didn’t grab his attention. Just as I was wallowing in a little bit of pity, we came across a street musician, and Eddie stopped abruptly in his tracks.

The musician was playing an acoustical guitar very softly. Eddie turned ninety degrees to face this man, and was about two feet from him. Eddie stood very still, and the musician began playing a blues rendition of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Eddie slowly began to smile, and within seconds he was dancing, and laughing. When the song was over, I gave the musician a dollar, and thanked him. The man said that Eddie’s attention was a true gift, and thanked me.

I am reminded that the most enjoyable moments in Eddie’s life are always a surprise. No matter how hard I plan for a big event, or a momentous outing, he will always find joy by thinking outside the box. Other people walk right by this man without even a glance. Eddie took the time to stop, face him, and really attend to his music.

Does that happen very often for the guitar player? That he is really “seen,” and appreciated for the musical gift he brings to that street. Not only did the musician brighten mine and Eddie’s day immensely, Eddie brightened his day as well. Next time we visit the park, or any part of the city, I’ll be listening for street musicians. I’m sure Eddie will be, too.