I watch, heart in my throat as Mr. N makes his way over to a full mat to wait for his swimming lessons. He stands awkwardly in front of the other kids already seated, staring, unsure. He doesn’t know what to say, or do and I’m biting my lip as I try to give him the time to figure it out on his own instead of jumping in right away. None of the children say hi to him, he’s too new just yet. One keeps looking at his waist, perhaps because of Mr. N standing. I hope it’s that and not the bit of blue peaking out from his swimsuit. He’s still in diapers and so he wears a swim diaper at the pool, but I know the other kids his age don’t. I know as he gets a bit bigger that is going to be something they notice more.
I watch his little face, so serious as he starts shifting from one foot to the other. I see the fingers start moving, oddly rhythmical in no discernible pattern as the social stress starts to weigh in on his oh so tiny shoulders. I watch as his breathing starts to change, his thin torso showing each breath, and I shift in my chair, making a move towards him to speak, to ease the growing anxiety. But before I can, a solid frame fills my vision as Mr. C strides over to him. He’s left the kids he’s been trying so hard to cultivate a budding friendship with to kneel in front of his brother and offer kind words of encouragement for his upcoming swimming lesson. I watch as his breathing slows, as his face lights up and his shoulders straighten. I watch as Mr. C helps to begin a conversation between Mr. N and one of the boys sitting. I watch, and my heart cries with joy and with gratitude for the bond between them. I’m so incredibly grateful to know they will truly have each other as they get older. While 6 years seems like a large gap now, once Mr. N is in his 20’s their age difference won’t have much bearing. And yet, they will still have each other, their bond will be solid and formed from years of moments like this one.