Gray Matters – Things aren't always as they seem
Belfast — This weekend I was reminded of the Lewis Carroll classic, Alice in Wonderland, which was one of one of my all time favorite stories from when I was a kid. I mostly recalled one of the underlying themes of the story: Things aren't always as they seem.
On Sunday my son Shane, my boyfriend Mark and his parents joined many local families in the Labor Day weekend tradition of attending the Blue Hill Fair.
It was also a nice way to squeeze in a little more summer vacation for Shane, who was due to start third grade this week. I figured it would be a nice break from all the school shopping and stuff he generally dislikes. Since he already had a haircut — he asked me to shave his head about a week ago, and that will be an important detail later — we had a little time left of the holiday weekend to spend a day at the fair.
From the moment we arrived, all the people we encountered were so nice! I hadn't been to the Blue Hill Fair in years, and while I had always remembered having a pleasant experience, this was just over the top.
When Shane wanted to go on a pony ride, we set him up with the five bucks he needed to cover the cost. When it came time for his turn to hop in the saddle, the gentleman who was taking the money told Shane the ride was on him. I thought he was kidding, but when Shane dismounted the pony and still had the cash in his hand, I got a little worried and instructed Shane to pay the man and thank him for the ride.
And more stuff like that kept happening throughout the afternoon. At the area where all the farm animals were on display, a wicked nice sheep farmer told Shane he could feed the sheep, and it went on like so as the day wore on.
As the sky grew dark, we all decided to grab a picnic table and snag a bite to eat before the fireworks show began. At that time Shane mentioned he wanted a fried dough (and who could blame him, they are pretty awesome). Mark's mom, Julie, offered to walk Shane over to get a Dough Boy while I stood guard at the table.
When Shane came skipping back to the table a few moments later, Julie quietly mentioned that perhaps I might want to think twice about shaving Shane's head in the future. Apparently, the nice lady at the Dough Boy booth commented that Shane appeared to be doing very well, then gave him the fair treat, free of charge. She then proceeded to tell Julie that Shane looked a lot like one of her young relatives, who is in remission.
Ummmm... What? Oh no...
It took me a few very long seconds for that information to sink in, but when it all came together I was totally horrified. My eyes got really wide, my jaw dropped to the ground and I just remember gasping at the idea that people had been so wonderful all day because they thought my son had a serious illness.
Not that I don't think people would not have been pleasant in general anyway, but I just felt awful knowing that such a huge misunderstanding was the reason for all the extra kindness.
People here in Maine, I find, will go out of their way to help anyone who is in great need, whether it be due to a house fire, accident, or an illness in the family.
Here I must say I am so very thankful my son is not in need of such support, and he is perfectly healthy. While I appreciate all the kindness, and I thank everyone at the Blue Hill Fair for being so great to my son, I feel I must apologize to all we encountered, even though we all had no clue what was going on for much of that time.
I guess I can come away from the experience with a little embarrassment about the situation, but also with a new appreciation for how well Maine people stand behind their neighbors when someone is suffering, especially when it's a child.
So until my son's hair grows out, please know he is fine, he's just going to be hair impaired for a brief time this fall.
And if a lack of hair is the only thing I need to worry about with him, that is more than fine with me.