He was one of those big, boisterous, charming kids that you just know is going to be the big man on campus one day.
And he spotted Graham right away that morning as we grabbed the necessities at the grocery store.
“Hello there!” he shouted with a beaming smile as he bounded over. “Hi, my name’s Michael. What’s your name?”
And Graham kind of half smiled and murmured before burying his face in my leg.
And I almost said, He’s a little shy, but I bit my tongue, remembering all the wonderful advice about NOT LABELING that I received when I posted to my blog about my worries about Graham being shy.
So I just smiled and said, “His name is Graham. Nice to meet you Michael,” as we turned into the next aisle.
“You know Graham,” I said casually, a few moments later. “If you do want to talk to that boy, you can just say, “Hello there, my name is Graham.’”
He look at me gravely. I pulled a silly face. “Hello there, my name is Graham.”
He shrugged. “No mama.”
A few minutes later we met at the checkout, Graham and I and Michael and his mother and a sister who appeared to be just a few years older.
“Hello there Graham,” Michael bellowed. “Hi Graham, hi Graham!”
His sister chimed in. “Hi Graham, hi Graham!”
Graham smiled widely, but ducked to hide behind me as the children continued their greetings in sing-song unison.
“Hi Graham, hi Graham!”
“Keep it down guys,” their mother finally chided. “The little boy is shy.”
“Ya, Graham’s shy. Leave the shy boy alone Michael,” said the little girl.
And I smiled weakly but inside my heart sank because, as pleased as I might be with my resolution not to label Graham as shy, I hadn’t really thought about how he might be affected by others who did.
Whatever. I shrugged it off and away we went.
But as we pulled out of the parking lot I heard something: something that brought tears to my eyes because it made me realize that this battle, if you can even call it a battle, wasn’t and never will be, mine to win or lose.
I heard a soft voice in the back seat, earnest and steady, repeating a phrase over and over again with practiced determination.
“Hello there, my name is Graham. Hello there, my name is Graham.”