The Boy at the Gym
I went to the gym last night, I know this because I hurt all over and I feel a bit smugger than I did the day before. I take no great pleasure in going to the gym other than telling people “I went to the gym last night” – it sounds good. I take long breaks between exercises to check if I’ve grown a six pack yet and debate whether Gangster Rap music is really conducive to better exercise.
I saw a lady who was sat looking on adoringly at her son who was exercising. She was wearing a work uniform; it was about 7:30pm and presumably she had left work, picked up her son, taken him to the gym and was just happy to watch him enjoy himself. I felt a wave of parental admiration for her because I suspect she was still some way from doing anything remotely for herself. I had a little word with myself “take note Matthew, that is the face you should be pulling the next time you watch Max at work”.
Her son was Down’s syndrome. I started thinking about it and I don’t think I’ve ever actually had any sort of encounter with anyone with Down’s syndrome. The boy came over and sat next to me where I was exercising, right next to me. I could feel him looking at me, really looking hard. He started mimicking all the exercises I was doing, bad posture and all. I looked at him and he flashed me a smile, a genuinely happy, loving smile.
He probably wouldn’t have realised it but it was one of those moments that actually meant something to me. Two people who have never met making one another happy. We weren’t trying to work one another out, there were no barriers up, we weren’t trying to impress each other and there were no agendas. It was like getting a hug from someone special.
I won’t go into any clichés about feeling fortunate that I have a completely healthy son (I do) or what a great job she was doing (she was) because that wasn’t what I felt, I just felt happy I met him. I hope I bump into him again, he was cool.