Benefit of the doubt
There were about 4 of us (including The Boy) sitting in the doctor’s waiting room. This waiting room has huge glass windows so that everyone can see who is walking up the drive to wait for the doctors. The Boy was enjoying a play with the toys, and wasn’t looking out the window. The rest of us had nothing better to do, so we stared out the window.
A grandmother, a mother and two young boys walked up to the door. The boys quickly joined in the play, and the grandmother sat down heavily on the bench beside me. The mother went to the receptionists.
I stopped staring out the window to watch the young boys interact with their grandmother. She was fussing over them. At one point, she handed the older boy one of the toys from the box – a very large plastic T. Rex.
Soon, the mother was done with the receptionist – she was merely picking up a prescription – and she signalled for the others to follow her out the door. All of them got up and left. Including the toy dinosaur, still held tightly in the hands of the older boy.
My Boy was oblivious, but the rest of us watched out the window to see what would happen. We all glanced at the receptionist to see if she had seen what we had. But no. They were busy.
The older gentleman to my left was clearly not amused. His face had changed to a deep dark scowl. His caregiver said nothing, but she was frowning, too. And they were watching intently.
I had already decided that if they kept going without returning the dinosaur, I would mention it to the receptionist. After all, she had their name and phone number. But I wasn’t concerned. I could tell the adults had not seen the boy still had the toy.
They walked to the end of the parking lot and stopped to have a discussion, clearly about where they were going next. Then they turned right and started walking.
And then it happened. The grandmother looked down and noticed the older boy still had the dinosaur. Said nothing. Cocked her head towards the building and pointed.
The boy’s bottom lip stuck out, and without a word, he ran back to the building, through the doors, threw the dinosaur on the floor beside my son, and ran back to join the others, who had started walking without him but weren’t far.
The receptionist, noticing only the return of the toy, smiled and waved. The older gentleman snorted and turned away.
I merely nodded to myself.
I considered how that could have gone completely awry if anyone had approached them angrily, assuming they were trying to steal the toy.
I considered the reaction of the older gentleman, and wondered if his reaction would have been different had the family not been an ethnic minority.
But I was glad we had all given them the benefit of the doubt.