Rafa\’s Corner of Nonsense, Part Deux

… where Rafa\’s thoughts see the light of day…

Parental twinge

On my last flight I was seated next to a little boy, around 10 years old, that was evidently travelling alone (he was escorted to his seat by one of the flight attendants). He was wistfully looking out the window, and after a few minutes he started crying quietly. It wasn’t the annoying, attention-seeking cry of a spoiled little kid, but rather the mournful, dignified crying of a boy that’s old enough to feel shame for crying in public, and yet not old enough to be able to do anything about it. As his big sorrowful eyes welled up with tears, for the first time I felt what can only be described as a parental twinge, this notion that this boy needed taking care of and that I should somehow do just that: I felt this urge to put my arm around him, hold him tight, and tell him everything was going to be all right, or to at least ask him what was wrong.

Of course I did none of those things: the Rafa rooted in reality is as cowardly as he is not destined to be a parent. I glanced at him once in a while, watching him regain his composture, and wanting desperately for him to engage in conversation so I could try to make him feel better. During the flight we did talk a little bit about what he was seeing through the window and about just how many swimming pools people in Orlando have, but after he had calmed down it almost seemed cruel to bring up the subject and ask him why he had been crying. I could not tell if he was sad for someone he was leaving behind, something he was going to have to face after landing, or some deeper sorrow that would have inexorably followed him to the farthest corner of the earth.

After we deplaned, the thing that struck me was that all through the flight, even after he had stopped crying, I never once saw him smile.

A ten-year-old should always be smiling.

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August 15, 2005 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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