It was a Saturday morning in early spring. One of those spring mornings when I was happy to finally see patches of blue behind the clouds that seemed sewn onto the sky for weeks and taking a walk with my son, who was two at the time, seemed the perfect way to honour my joy. Walking around the neighborhood meant that he would go after the tiniest insect and observe it for several long minutes and then he would watch a droplet a water balancing on the tip of a twig, round and plump. Would another one take its place if it fell? Most likely. Dripping is a fascinating phenomenon. As adults we choose to be annoyed by it, but we were all entranced by water dripping once upon a time. A matter of perspective perhaps.
Our walk took us through puddles, under some dew-weeping branches, and around various timeless creepy crawlies such as earthworms and millipedes. Occasionally, a passerby would smile and try to locate the object of our fascination. Other people’s eyes glanced over us like we were yet another bus stop poster. A couple of blocks later we walked by a guy who had a whole bunch of nothings on a blue tarp on the wet grass. A garage sale, my son pointed out. I’d usually stop and look around, have a chat and maybe try to find a little piece of someone else’s life to buy and add it to my own tapestry. Not this time. My eyes skimmed over the things spread out on that worn out tarp and they all seemed tired and old and my only thought was “He’ll never sell any of that, it’s all junk”. Malicious? You could say that again. So we kept on walking turning another corner and a few minutes later someone’s running steps echoed behind. “Would your son like this? Please take it.” The garage sale guy was holding a bright green Kermit – that beloved quirky frog from the Muppet show – and was offering it to my son. The big smile on the guy’s face and the happy green colour of the frog dangling in his hand made me cringe. I felt so ashamed. I accepted the gift and thanked the guy almost not daring look him in the eyes. I wanted to apologize but even that would’ve not been enough. The only decent way out would be to remember that day my entire life and know once and for all that judging is an ugly deed.
Kermit is still one of my son’s favourite stuffies. Bulging plastic eyes and all. I am staring at his wrongly sewn droopy thin arms right now and I see nothing wrong with it. He is the talisman of my humility. Every now and then I tell my sons the story of how we came across Kermit. He is my son’s toy, but I can say, and without a trace of self-importance, that he was given to me. Because I needed to learn. I hope I did.