On May 30th I wrote a posting titled Vignette- The Young Fan. There was another story to write about another young fan which I almost included in that previous posting. But then I realized that it needed its own space.
So as well as the young boy who sat beside my husband, there was a young girl in the seat in front of him. I don’t know whether Rich noticed her or not and I haven’t spoken to him about her since. She was a little older than the boy in our row, perhaps in her mid to late teens – fifteen to seventeen years old.
She was dressed very ordinarily – jeans and a t-shirt. She had just-below-shoulder length dark hair in a non descript style. She was neither “pretty” or “ugly” – whatever those labels mean. Just a very ordinary girl at a concert getting ready to enjoy herself. But within a few minutes of noticing her I realized that she was far from ordinary.
She sat next to an older woman who I initially guessed to be her mother or perhaps an aunt, and they were with two other women who sat on the other side of the girl. As I said, I noticed she was different and after watching her for a while I realized that she was probably somewhat mentally challenged. I have volunteered with the mentally and physically challenged in the past so I have a soft spot in my heart for them.
Her jaw hung a little slack which left her mouth always slightly open and the corners of her mouth were always wet as though she were about to dribble. When she turned to speak to or listen to the woman next to her she didn’t just turn her head, she purposely choreographed her whole upper body in a complete physical turn toward the woman. Her eyes seemed extra bright, as though they were on the verge of tears, and they were more wide open than the average person’s.
There was a moment, just before the concert began, when one of the women said something and the girl obviously found it very comical. She began laughing and shaking her body up and down, almost in a jumping motion, as she brought her hands together, as though to clap, but then just rubbed them together very quickly. She was very excited and her eyes became even more brilliant than before.
Once the first act started and the audience began to warm up, people began to clap to the music. The girl’s mother (she may also have been a caregiver), began to clap and the girl first scrutinized her to check out exactly what she was doing, and then began to clap also. It was a very careful and purposeful putting the hands together movement, as though she had studied how to do it and was now practicing.
Not long after that the audience began to really warm up and many chose to stand up and raise their hands to God. The mother/aunt/caregiver rose to her feet, continuing to clap, and began swaying to the music. Again, the young girl studied her movements and only once she was sure of the sequence did she then get to her feet and, keeping an eye on the older woman, began to clap and sway side to side.
Throughout the whole concert this scene played out in front of me. The older woman would laugh, so the girl would laugh. The older woman would make a specific movement, so the girl would do the same. Just as a toddler learns his or her behaviors from watching and imitating, so this young girl was learning how to function in the big wide world.
It made me think how vulnerable these special people are. They are filled with such an innocence and trust totally on the adults in their lives to show them the way, to show them how to behave and act around others and in specific situations. I prayed that the people who took care of her were good people who loved her and would protect her. I also said a prayer of gratitude for my own children and asked God to keep a special eye out for all the more vulnerable people in our world today.