I take one step out of the stairway and onto the living room floor and “Please play with me?” The boy shaped puzzle is forcing a pleasant smile, his desperate sales pitch to everyone he meets in the world – the cashier, children at the park, the FedEx man, dad – his lovable un-leavable best.
“Please play with me?”
I hurry across the room explaining for the dozenth time today that I’m still working.
I’m petitioned between phone calls, breaking to brew tea, rushing to the restroom. “Please play with me?”
We hoped Christmas and two sets of over-zealous grandparents would finally give him the tools he needed to self-entertain. My mother stuck to the only-three-present rule by consolidating a dozen into three boxes. “It’s three presents,” she insists, like a Clinton defense attorney playing by the letter of the definition and not the spirit of it.
Nonnie managed to fit every Spiderman toy ever created into Sambhaji’s three “presents.” Motorcycles, action figures, a remote controlled car and helicopter. A van load full of amusement possibilities driven from Texas to the living room floor and…
“Please play with me?
For the longest time I thought he wanted me. And he does to an extent. But it’s not so much a person he’s after with his pleads. It’s a plan I think.
He doesn’t know how to play. Paper and colors, PlayDough, balls, books, puzzles. Without instructions, a playmate to take the lead, he’s overwhelmed by the infinite possibilities of the moment, stumped and searching for a guide to mimic.
He looks at times as if he’s been dropped onto an alien planet designed for creatures with appendages and senses he does not possess.
There is progress being made. Today, Sambhaji played with a car for five whole minutes by himself while Becky and I had a real live adult conversation. He whooshed the little metal coupe across the couch, screeching around turns and crashing into cushions. Until I complimented him on the great sounds he was making with his mouth, and then…”Please play with me?”
This kid, like all kids, is a gift. A “present” packed with presents. But, like the rest of us, there’s some stuff missing too — lost in an institution, perhaps, where he was given food,clothing, shelter, and lots of love but little alone time. Few opportunities to learn self-guidance.
We’re doing great. We really are. Better than anyone in-the-know expected. Thanks for asking again and again. But there’s room for improvement – patience, for starters. So if your prayer list is short this week…Please pray with me?