I should start by explaining that I take Trooper to speech therapy once a week at a pre-school where he has group therapy with as many as two other children at a time. Well, last time we were there his normal classmates were absent, so he had a new partner that I'll call Jim. I'm not sure what Jim's diagnoses is, but I think it's some kind of mental disability or autism or something like that, because it affects his interaction with people but his speech is fairly clear when you can get him to say anything.
So last week the therapist said several times that Jim was talking much more talking than was normal for him, and even interacted with Trooper a couple of times, which surprised her. Mostly he just told Trooper to stop playing with his trains, but apparently even that was unusual.
This week, we arrived a little early to the classroom and Jim was the only child there. He was playing on the floor by himself while the teacher and therapist were talking. When the adults welcomed Trooper into the room, Jim looked up and almost shouted, "Trooper! Trooper! You came back!" He ran to Trooper and gave him a hug, which Trooper returned.
Since I don't really know Jim, this didn't seem strange to me. Trooper and his little friends greet each other with hugs all the time. But the teachers were shocked at Jim's behavior. They said he had never acted that way with anyone, and they really can't get him to interact with at all. He mostly just repeats what you say, almost as though he doesn't understand it.
I don't know why he found such a connection with Trooper, but I can't help thinking it has to do with Trooper's openness and insistence on being a friend. Plus, he's not at all judgmental about people who are different from him. There's really no way to know because Jim can't tell us.
But the experience left me wondering what kind of affect I have on the people I interact with casually. Trooper made a lasting impression on a boy people didn't realize could be impressed, but most of the people I often meet around town couldn't tell you my name if I had it written across my forehead. Maybe it's time for me to start being a little more...more what? More like Trooper, I guess, willing to smile and greet anyone anywhere, and quick to show interest in those same people. I have to think that Jesus must have been like that to attract so many different kinds of people. This isn't me being preachy, just me wondering if the way Jesus is usually portrayed is more or less nonsense. It almost has to be when I think of things in light of today's meeting with Jim.