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Some Kids I Have Known
Shorty, Mary Ann and Terry

The children did not seem to see our child’s wheelchair. They only knew that she was their age and loved to play. Rhonda’s beautiful sweet-smile, and gentle ways made her a good playmate. It did not take kids but a short time to see past the fact that she couldn’t walk. Her loving personality had a quality to draw people to her. The three children living in an apartment across the courtyard from our little girl took it upon themselves to become her friends.

The three little ones played together in a location where Rhonda had to stay because she couldn’t walk and run like they could. It was like her visitors had some arrangement among them. They all three played with her. Then, suddenly, two of them would run off together in a whirl around the courtyard, while leaving one with her. This was the way they spent their day. Never was there ever any quarrel or a disagreement.

The children visiting Rhonda had a mother who was a hard worker, by necessity, because she was divorced. This caring mother had hired a live-in, baby sitter. The girl taking care of her children was kind. She kept them bathed, fed, and was ever watchful without imposing on the children's space. The way she dressed them gave the children a neat appearance. Never was the little girl's hair out of place or uncombed. The little boy, "Shorty," could have been a model. He was so healthy looking with a haircut combed to the neatest of places. The clothing he wore, even if it was, a T-shirt, was always pressed with a sharp line going down the side of it. His winning, wide, smiles won anyone's heart in an instant. He was only two and a half years but seemed older and most grown up.

While our family was having guests for dinner one evening, Shorty walked up to the sliding glass door outside the dining room. He stood there grinning. As we were admiring "that cute little boy," he reached over, slid the door open and with a bigger grin, said, "Do you see me?"

Indeed we had seen him, but his awareness of our approval gave him the opportunity to let them know he was willing to be noticed. His honest comment gave the adults a good laugh.

"Have you noticed how well behaved those children are?" Our mother, who was company, asked Dad.

"Well, yes, they are." "They sure play well together." Rhonda’s grandfather was impressed.

Days turned into weeks and weeks into months with the friendly little group playing like this. They made up games. One of them saved a big box into which they cut a window. The children would pick wild flowers, put them in plastic lid containers and this was set beside the box like outdoor pots of flowers to decorate. These bright kids made plates from lids, and silverware from sticks for their imaginary table. Of course, Shorty was always the "Daddy," while the little girls took turns being the "Mommy," or the "kid." They prepared whole meals by pretending. The Mommy would sometimes take an old scarf, tie it around her waist and she was ready to go off to work. Probably, the scarf in the child's mind was to mimic the apron their waitress mother wore as she went out the door on her way to her job.

The children's mother was hardly ever seen. She went to work early, came home tired, took care of the children, and spent every moment with them until their bedtime. She had no time to associate with her neighbors or to get acquainted. If she did did take a moment to speak or ask a small favor it was always just on her way to work, or maybe coming from work. She seldom asked for help, but occasionally, something would need attention and she might make a brief appearance. Marty was her name and she worked hard to make good tips. After the children went to bed the tired woman would be sitting at the table sorting and wrapping the coins in order to add the money up and to deposit it in the bank. She worked at a very high class restaurant, so it was common for her to bring in ninety dollars a night, just in tips, not including her wages. This was very good money in the year 1963.

Not too long before we were planning to move into our own home there came to be an opportunity for meeting the children's father. The reason for his appearance was because he was taking them home with him for a couple of weeks so they could have time with him..

He was a very quiet man, small in stature. His slow thoughtful looks made him a serious looking person. He came to our sliding glass door and stood waiting for me to answer the door, much like his son, Shorty, would do.

"Mam, I just wanted to thank you for the kindness you have shown to my children." "The baby sitter tells me how well they have played with your daughter."

"I really think it is I who should be thanking you for these beautiful children. My husband and I have been so impressed with how well they behave. They have been so gracious and loving with our little daughter."

"Oh yes. They are good kids." The gentle man quietly commented and seemed truly proud of his children.

"Their mother and I aren't together, but we try to get along as well as possible so the children don't suffer, unduly."

"Well, I can tell you they are certainly blessed with good care. Their mother works hard to see they have what they need and these three don't seem to suffer any at all from anything."

"I'm glad to hear that." The man looked pleased as he turned to go. When he turned his body away from me, I could see he held a withered, twisted arm he held close to his body. Whatever had caused the arm to be like it was, an injury or birth defect, I will never know. After the children left, we too, moved to another location in the giant city of Dallas and never saw the children or their parents again.

The very short moments we had with the man, who was their father, gave me an understanding for why the children were so well mannered. There was grace and dignity in his world and it was carried over to the children. That happened close to fifty years ago. Today, Terry would be Rhonda’s age, around fifty. Mary Ann would be forty-eight, and Shorty about forty-five. Rhonda and I have never forgotten the children and their goodness, even though, that was so many years ago.

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