This afternoon John wanted to go into town for a haircut, so James and I decided we would go along for the ride. James was hoping to buy another boat from one of the charity shops, so I suggested that he donate an old toy that he didn't play with anymore. He was quite amenable to this idea and selected a Postman Pat figure complete with mail trolley, that he had inherited from one of my step-grandsons. He was very excited about this and wanted to put it in his own bag to give to the lady himself. We took a couple of bags of books with us too.
Well, he didn't get his boat, but he did find a yellow digger and a wooden tractor instead. The lady in Barnardo's was very pleased to take his donation and made a wee fuss of him, which he always enjoys. Then we found a bag of large lego type pieces in the Capability shop for 50p and the lady there gave him a little Eskimo figure she had sitting on the counter.
We met up with Dad, who was sitting reading on a bench outside the barbers. James stayed with him while I investigated the British Heart Foundation shop. When I returned, (with a skirt, a top and a couple of good children's books) he had built a large tower, helped by Dad and an older man who had been sitting on the bench too. They were totally engrossed in their construction project and the man was genuinely sorry when we left for home.
On the way, we passed another 2 charity shops - Help the Aged and Sense (more books, a jumper, shirt and wellies for James). In each place and along the way, people smiled, chatted and generally took an interest in him. All the shop volunteers made a fuss of him; an elder from the Islamic community centre, who was browsing in the Sense shop came up and shook his hand; and, as a group of teenage boys passed by, one of them said to the others "Awww,did you see that cute wee boy?", and they all turned round a smiled at him
I was struck by the way these folk, strangers to us, all immediately resonated with James's natural innocence. There is something so touching about a child's wonder at the world; and the world responds back. I hope James will never lose that sense of wonder and innocence.