"You could learn from him you know!"
I had heard them first. A rapid clomp clomp clomp of feet drew my attention. There was a young dad in jeans with two kids. Dad was walking quickly stomping his feet at every step. A young boy maybe five years old laughed wildly and tried to time his steps to his Dad's rapid beat. Another son, a couple years older yet still to young to be cynical, rolled his eyes at his brothers enjoyment.
Dad was loving it. He seemed to delight in making the boy laugh. I understood it was a nice laugh. If the twinkling of stars had a sound - it would be that boy's giggle. "What a nice scene," I thought as I rolled away to do my own shopping.
It was nice to be on my own in the store. Joe was back at Burger King finishing his veggie burger and chips. Joe chews his food so he always takes sooooo long. I decided to hit Tesco's on my own. Joe would be able to find me there. I went first to look at children's clothes, wanting to pick up something for bouncy baby Ruby, finding none I headed for the books. Joe, knowing precisely what path I took caught up with me and we began shopping in earnest.
As we were finishing we split up, Joe going to get baking soda which he actually eats as a remedy for heartburn, and I went off in search of shaving foam. As I arrived and tried to decide what kind of skin I had, I lamented the days when men had the same two choices for foam as we had for cigarettes, regular or menthol. Picking out shaving foam is boring so I was relieved to hear that laugh again.
This time Dad was walking like a big ape, swinging his arms whilst bent over. Baby boy was in hysterics. Dad might just be the funniest guy on the planet. The older boy was tired of all this and it showed. His face was a millimeter away from a tantrum. Then it happened. He swung out and smacked his brother. No tears were shed but the young boy looked up at his brother and it was then I saw that he had Down Syndrome. There was hurt on his face, he didn't know what he had done wrong.
Dad was mad.
But he knelt down and looked the older boy in the eye. "We were just having fun - you can't be left out if you won't play. You could learn from him you know. He knows how to play. You've forgotten."
Now there were tears. The older boy, sensing his dad's deep disappointment, started to cry. "I'm sorry, Dad."
"Don't apologize to me, you didn't hit me."
He looked at his brother but before he could say anything the young boy grabbed him and said, "I'm sorry too!"
The incident was over.
I wonder how many other lessons brother will teach brother over a lifetime.
I'd bet many.