Working with the kids at CereCare has been such a unique experience. I was sitting at KFC waiting to meet up with Joyce for our trip to Huangshan, which was amazing and will hopefully show up in the next post. A mom and her two young sons settle in to a table near me. The two boys are wild, running, playing, shouting. The mom is frantically running after them, spanking them and asking them to stop running/playing carelessly. I think about how lucky they are that they have functional limbs to play and run at such speeds and ease. They get the luxury to move so much they sweat a ton. I also think about the irony behind all of this. When babies are born, we can’t wait for them to utter their first words. We can’t wait for them to start crawling and walking, feeling our hearts ripped a little every time they fall and cry. Then after a while, we can’t wait for them to shut up, stop running, and go to sleep. For a split second, I think about how nice it is to see the kids running. One of them even walks up to stare at me for a little bit, and I smiled back.
One of the boys in another class that I hang out with sometimes is a little younger than my class. He’s probably about 9 or 10 years old, quite small, but very adorable. He usually arrives at the room for naptime very late and very sweaty. In fact, so sweaty that they have to change his shirt and wipe his body. As I took more time to observe, it turns out that he’s one of the last kids to leave the dining hall and make his journey to the classroom for naptime. I call it a journey because it’s pretty backbreaking for him. His teacher will instruct him on standing upright, clasping his hands and holding them straight out in front of him, tucking his butt in, and taking baby steps, slow and steady, one foot at a time. He shakes with every step, pauses for a long time in between each step, and gets pretty distracted easily, staring at everyone else before he refocuses on the arduous task in front of him. Every day, he falls at least once, shaking and suddenly stumbling onto the ground. It’s really rough watching him fall and struggle to get back up, because either someone helps him up, or he has to crawl to a wall/railing nearby to get up again. Then he continues his journey, beads of sweat forming and running down his face. I usually clasp my hands in front of me and try to get his attention so he can focus as I walk backwards, hoping that he follows along and walks forward. It takes such a long time that I get either bored/impatient. Even though the distance is only about 15 feet, it takes him probably about 10-15 minutes and a whole lot of sweat. I feel bad for feeling bored/impatient. Isn’t it such a privilege that I get to feel bored or impatient? That I get to give up walking with him and just go in to the room and hang out with the other kids while I wait for him to make it? It’s so unfair thinking about how he doesn’t get to give up. So looking at the kids in KFC sweating from playing and running, I think about the little boy who sweats through his shirt every day from trying to walk to naptime 15 feet away, a very different kind of sweat indeed.