In Ralphie We Trust

The late afternoon sunshine streaked through the front picture window creating puddles of light on the gold carpet. I still believed that God hung out in the sunshine, just as I did as a child. Seeing sunshine streaks always reminds me to say my little girl prayers. I have no idea how all of that even got into my head. Either my mother or dad must have told me that a long time ago. It reminded me to be careful what I was installing in the minds of my little ones. It’s so easy to believe in those we trust.

Yesterday afternoon, I heard some gentle banging on the back door. The kids were at school and I was busy putting together a casserole for dinner. No one ever knocked at the back door, so the noise surprised me. The inside door was opened a little due to the nice weather and at the other side of the storm door was a small boy. I recognized him as Ralphie Brown, Sandra and Joe’s son. I hadn’t gotten to know them very well yet and he was definitely too young to be visiting on his own. Granted, they only lived a few houses away and I had seen them playing in their backyard. Each yard had its own fencing – some wood, some wire, some just shrubs, so it was easy to see what was going on when families were in their own backyards. I opened the door and the little boy entered. He didn’t seem too frightened of me and climbed up onto a chair at the kitchenette. I automatically brought him a cookie and a small glass of milk. He ate happily, crumbs falling from his mouth. I realized that I had been speaking to him the entire time, asking him his name, where his mom was, what he was doing here, but he never answered any of my questions. Actually, he didn’t pay any attention to me. I sat down next to him and looked directly at him and he smiled back at me. I asked his name and realized that he probably didn’t hear me.

I grabbed a bottle of Daisy’s bubbles off the kitchen counter and blew some his way. He giggled out loud. I pulled some of Junior’s soldiers from the box on the toy shelf and lined up a few on the table in front of him. He did what little boys do. Picked them up one by one and walked them around each other and eventually rammed them into each other and they fell down. That gene must be strong in males. But he seemed to enjoy himself and smiled and laughed as they fell. He looked up at me and smiled. I could see his baby teeth. I decided to return my little friend.

We walked hand in hand down the front sidewalk to the Brown house. As we approached the front door, it swung open and a very worried Sandra Brown came out to greet us. She grabbed her toddler and hugged him tightly. Mrs. Brown turned back to me and thanked me profusely for returning little Ralphie. She explained how he must have roamed away from the backyard where he was playing with his sister. Obviously, she said, he didn’t hear me when his name was called. A bell went off in my head. He never heard me talking to him either. Sandra and I talked for a few more minutes and I made a promise to myself to try and include them more in the activities on our block. The annual party would be soon. Maybe it was time to reach out and get to know this family better. Maybe little Ralphie could even come over for a real visit. I’m sure his mom wouldn’t mind after she knew me better and built up some trust in me. I missed having a little boy around. I was already used to children who didn’t always listen to me; Ralphie might help me learn how to communicate better.

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