Several weeks ago, we signed up for "Kids Bowl Free", a program that lets kids bowl two free games every day from May to September. Awesome! (Our specific bowling alley doesn't participate on Tuesdays, for some strange reason, so for us it's 6 days a week, which is still pretty cool.) Since the program started last week, we've been every day (except Tuesday, of course). Needless to say my shoulder muscles are KILLING me, but that isn't going to stop me from bowling! I guess I should clarify that parents could sign up for a family pass, so we did.
Right now, public school is still in session, so we go right after lunch and there is nobody else there. I mean that almost literally. Monday, we were one of four groups. Wednesday, we were one of three. Thursday, at one point, we were the only ones bowling. I tell you, it is kinda creepy being the only ones bowling in the entire alley. At any moment I expected the electricity to go out and scary men with butcher knives to come chasing us. But nothing happened. Friday, there were four other groups bowling. The group closest to us was about 6 lanes away, just close enough to watch and far enough away so we weren't staring.
I have been confronted with my love of people watching on these days. No matter where I am, I like watching people. I try to guess their relationships to each other (are they brother and sister, boyfriend and girlfriend, just friends?) and most of the time, I do so with abandon. But here, where there are only so many people to watch and an hour or so trapped with just those people to watch, I wonder if I'm really staring, just calling it something else so I don't feel bad.
Wednesday, the group next to us (four lanes away) was a group from a church in town. The group was a bunch of mentally handicapped adults. They used the bumpers and chanted for each person to get a strike. I don't know if EJ could tell they were mentally handicapped or not, but he did fire a few questions at me about why they were using the bumpers when the rules clearly stated 8 years old and younger.
Friday, the group closest to us was comprised of three teenage girls, their little brother, and their mom. The little boy was about 5, and he had cerebral palsy or something because he walked with a walker. His feet were bent and couldn't support any of his weight. When he bowled, he sat down and pushed the ball. After a while, we had this conversation:
"Mommy," said EJ, "I feel sorry for that little boy."
"Why do you feel sorry for him?" I asked.
"Because he can't walk right," said EJ.
I knew people who are different don't want pity from anybody, so I said, "You don't need to feel sorry for him. Just because he can't walk as well as you doesn't mean he isn't having fun. He's here bowling just like you are! He probably plays on his Wii at home and it looks like he has three older sisters to read to him and play cars with him. Just because someone is a little different doesn't mean you should feel sorry for them."
I paused for a minute, then continued, "Remember your uncle (who has cerebral palsy and walks with a limp)? He can't walk as well as you, but he knows karate (he actually studied jujutsu, but I knew EJ didn't know what that was and I didn't want to get into a conversation within a conversation), and Spanish, and Japanese, and I know that he is way too smart for anyone to feel sorry for him!"
At which point, I could see the light bulb go off in EJ's mind.
After agreeing with me that no one needs pity, EJ announced, "I want to learn karate like my uncle. When can I?"
I wanted to add that if he wanted to feel sorry for someone, it should be me because I can't bowl very well. :-) But I was having fun too, and I didn't want to confuse him with sarcasm.
Anyway, I know this summer at the bowling alley we will meet all kinds, and I just pray God gives me the wisdom next time EJ has a question about someone who is different from him.