Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Power of Perception

I don't know when Margot became so mature in her perceptions, but this is clearly one of her strengths/gifts.

We spent some time in the mall this afternoon, staying out of the soupy heat that enveloped the Philadelphia metro region today. We paused for a brief lunch in the food court; Margot requested a hamburger (an unusual request for her) and I ate a veggie burger from Burger King.

We sat at a table next to a girl who was probably about eight or nine years old. She was writing in an activity workbook - filling in crosswords, doing word finds, etc. When we first sat down, I thought perhaps her mom or dad was picking up lunch from one of the fast food joints in the food court while she held the table. After a few minutes, I realized no one had come to join her. Almost simultaneously, I noted the resemblance between the girl and a woman who stood about 15 feet away, handing out tiny samples of 'bourbon chicken.' must be her mother, I thought. Poor kid, I thought. I wondered if she had to spend every day in the mall food court or if her babysitter had just fallen through today.

All of these thoughts were in my head. I did not speak a word about it (it was just me and Margot, after all).

Margot chewed on her plain hamburger, lost in thought. For her, this was also unusual. Normally she keeps up a steady stream of observations of all that is happening around her.

I heard the quietest of songs coming from the girl while she worked in her workbook. Margot heard it too; then she looked at me.

"That girl is singing, Mommy," said Margot, quietly. The girl was only about two feet away from her.

"Yes, she's singing a little song," I agreed.

"That girl is lonely, Mommy," Margot concluded.

And for some reason, this just about broke my heart. Not only had Margot noticed the girl was alone, without a playmate, mom, or dad, but she sensed her sadness. Margot knows what loneliness is. When did she learn this? How did she learn this? How did she learn to sense this in a young girl who never looked at her, but only continued to write in her activity book?

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