We have two sets of neighbors here that live adjacent to our home. Both married and elderly with broken english and limited ability for communication. One couple is Asian, the other is from some middle eastern country of some kind. Their apartments are stacked one on top of the other. All four of these people most frequently rock the comfy pant look. Both of the elderly men most often wear track suits. The Asian woman once snuck Caleb an Asian treat I have never seen in my life (and I'm Chinese-I have see my fair share of goods). These elderly couples love Caleb, particularly the old men. They watch him and will stop walking to watch Caleb come by. They wave and smile widely while always asking how we are doing. I am pretty sure the Asian man has called Caleb his best friend and has told him he loves him before, in his very broken english. I hardly see these pairs interact with each other, but they are always this way to Caleb anytime we cross their paths. I think one of the men will also stop as he walks by, give us a little bow, and say, "Hello good neighbor".
A few weeks ago, Caleb and I were outside the apartment door on the grass with a blanket spread out. We were having a picnic of sorts and I was doing my nails as Caleb ran around. The old man came by to chat, as per the usual anytime he sees us. He walked up in his oversized cardigan and big glasses, socks tucked out of his sweatpants and feet inserted into his slip on shoes. After doing his usual greeting, he said to me that he always sees me with my boy. He doesn't see me bring other people around, save for occasional friends. He told me that sees me taking care of my boy every day. He said that I go to work, and I take care of my son. He asked Caleb if he loved his mommy, and he told Caleb that his mom was #1. He asked if Caleb agreed and then gave him a high five. Then my neighbor walked away holding up his finger while repeating, "Number One!"
What struck me about this story besides his sweet and kind words to my son and I, is that he is my neighbor whom I see in passing more often then anyone else here. He slowly walks out his apartment with his wife and just loves seeing his little buddy Caleb, who is too busy in his own world to really take notice. They see the real and daily ongoings of our lives. They see me struggling along with my loads of laundry, bags of groceries and exasperated tones. They see me toting him along each day after a long commute home from work. Our neighbors see slivers of truth in our lives that we can't hide. This is the truth he saw. And he's right, that is what I do. I work, and I take care of my son. I am his advocate first. And I will fight for him always. I already have, and I always will.