Sunday, April 17, 2011

Learning disappointments

A boy in school uniform is crying silently, wiping tears about to burst from his eyes. He's short, lanky, probably in second grade, and he reminds me of myself when I was a kid. He holds his mother's hand. She leans toward him, consoling him with, "Don't worry. We'll find another one."

In the second-hand bookstore, I squeeze my way around piles of books to get closer to hear bits of the conversation. His mother has promised to buy him a Hardy Boys storybook. Whether it's for his birthday or for an award he got in school,  I really can't say. What I do know is: he's been waiting for this day, like a watchman awaiting the morning.

But things don't turn out the way he wants. The book is gone. Another kid, student, or mother must have bought it days ago. The boy looks helpless, and I feel sorry for him. If only they had come here earlier, if only they had bought the book the first time he spotted it. 

His mother hands him a Nancy Drew, "What about this?"

He looks away, as if to say, "It's not going to be the same."

And for a while there, I want to come near the boy, pat his back, and tell him, "It feels bad, but believe me, things will turn out okay, and there are better books out there. Have you read Charlotte's Web? It's my childhood favorite."

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