You are walking down the street, minding your own business, when several unfamiliar men stocking a truckload of soda call out to you: “Hey, friend!” Unwilling to acknowledge these remarks from strangers, you just keep walking. As you do, you feel the eyes of everyone you pass boring into your back and you hear their whispered remarks as you hurry by.
A short while later, you climb aboard the crowded subway and once again hear the whispers and feel the stares which you are trying your hardest to ignore. Suddenly, an unknown woman reaches out and touches your face! You pull away with a cry of frustration and refuse to respond or to look at anyone. You hear the strange woman talking to the one sitting right next to you, and it is you they are discussing.
Everywhere you go, the eyes and whispers follow you.
As you are waiting to board another subway for the next leg of your journey, two uniformed women approach you. They reach out and touch your face and hair, asking your name and even expecting a kiss from you! You reject their advances as you have everyone else’s and close your eyes, hoping that all of these strangers will go away and just leave you alone.
You arrive at your destination, a busy central plaza downtown. It is a relief to find that many of the people are too busy to notice you in this place. But a nice old man who limps past with a cane, catches your eye and leans down with a piece of candy for you. He receives the first smile of the day as you look forward to savoring the sweet candy a little later.
You find a quiet spot near the benches, thinking you’ll be left alone. But an unshaven homeless man approaches you and begins talking to you. You are cornered and uncomfortable, as he tries to reach for your hand, asking your name and even requesting your piece of candy! He says, “Do you want to come with me?” but of course you do not and you refuse to even make eye contact with him.
On his heels, a man in a long white coat appears. He, too, asks your name and reaches out for you. You find yourself repeating the word, “No, no!” and wanting everyone to just go away!
Fortunately, you are not alone. Every time a stranger approaches, there are two familiar people at your side to “run interference” for you. Mostly you let them do the talking, huddling close to them for security or hiding your face in their shoulders.
You are tired of all this fuss, of all this attention. You don’t want to be told how cute you are or asked how old you are or what your name is by every stranger you meet. You don’t want to create a stir everywhere you go. And you don’t understand exactly why you are so special to everyone in this new place with its new sights and strange new sounds!
You are just two years old, and all you want is to be secure in the love of your family, and to have fun.
You are Owen - and this all happened just this morning …