Sunny morning in the plaza and I’m sitting close enough to supervise, yet distant enough to disown him should the need arise, watching my child extract the full multi-sensory enjoyment out of the muddy puddles left by last night’s storm. A natural performer, the small blonde head in the centre is quickly surrounded by larger primary school children. These nicely brought up young people have self-divided into two groups. The first form the inner circle of Joni’s apprentices, eagerly following him into the deliciously illicit territory of muddy water. The second hover a few paces behind, increasing nervous by the presence of this adult who is clearly the blonde child’s parent, and yet isn’t calling a halt to his antics. Finally they start trying to prompt me into reacting as a good Argentinian mother surely would;
“He’s getting all wet” “Yes, I thought he probably was”
“He might fall over” “Yes, I expect he probably will”
“He’s going to get his clothes all muddy” “Yes, I’m sure it’ll wash out”
“You’ll have to give him a bath” “Yes, we do that most days too…”
He did; he did; he did; and I did. And I’m sure they all went home and told their parents.
A different sunny morning and I’m at the summer scheme for people with disabilities, just started this week till the middle of February. We’ve been in the pool a while and I’m sitting at the edge in the company of a physiotherapist watching my little friend from the village in his element. We’ve finished his swimming lesson, and he is now fully engaged in trying to pick up the bubbles from the top of the water.
“Como cambió la vida de este chiquito” She observes “How this little boy’s life has changed”.
I have no idea if she fully understands the weight of what she was saying, or who she was saying it to. Nor have I any idea where we go from here, what else we can do for him, or for anyone else, in this context or in any other. How many starfish can we throw back into the sea? I don’t know, but I’m proud to have had the privilege to be able to make a difference to this one.
Another new morning, and here we are, about to celebrate the birth of another little boy, conceived out of wedlock, born into poverty, in an occupied territory, forced to become a refugee, ultimately rejected even by his own; and yet, two thousand years on, still transforming lives. A new day dawns, a new reality beckons. This is Christmas.