Tuesday, December 7, 2010
(Father) Treasure Trash
About ten years ago I was working with Developmentally Disabled adults. Most of my job consisted of taking 5-10 of them out into the community to free events (tight budget) or just relaxing in the park. There were times when one of us would have to stay at the resource center and "Mama" was usually one of them. Mama was a 75 year old woman who needed a steady stream of oxygen and shuffled along with the assistance of a walker. We called her Mama because she was absolutely in love with babies (any child under ten). You could never see a happier woman when she would see children. She would turn to one of us and smile with a toothless grin, point, and say, "Babies!"
But Mama had a grouchy side that was unleashed on anyone who dared touch the collection of papers stuffed into the front pouch of her walker. If one had "lost" their craft for the day we would know exactly where it was. Many times our daily newspaper had reached her front pouch before anyone had even taken it out of the blue plastic wrapping.
When Mama's front pocket became full we had to distract her and pull as many papers out as we could without there being so much of a difference she would notice. Otherwise this 75 year old woman would be overturning garbage cans.
I thought of Mama the other day and I'm sure you will see why. Fire and I were collecting trash from around the house. We were having a lot of fun until we overturned one particular garbage can into the trash bag. We stopped talking and stared at what had just fallen out. Those precious colorful drawings made from the blood, sweat, and tears of our children. The colorful drawings that were made "just for you" and they "worked really hard on". The colorful drawings you see them make with a furrowed brow reflecting steady concentration. The colorful drawings they presented to you with bated breath. Waiting, and hoping, for praise and admiration regrading the fruit of their labor. Like an innocent little sponge they soaked in the acceptance of their work from idealized parents and asked we keep it on the fridge "forever".
In that moment in time the world stood still as he processed the fact "forever", for adults, translates into 7 days. There was no way to hide it. I had stuffed these precious items to the bottom of the trash. Well, the bottom becomes the top pretty quickly and the evidence was plain to see. Fire looked up at me with a concerned look, "Oh! Why in da bottom of garbage". I lied.
"How did that get in there?" I said. I have to admit that if pressed further I would have blamed Daisy.
"We take it out!" said Fire as he began collecting the pile of papers that had once been trash. The guilt inside of me for not only throwing them away, but also lying about it, prompted me to repeat the praises of each item as they were removed from the pile. It was like reliving old times with Mama. At least Fire didn't have a walker to throw at me.