Waving at Trees

Lisa Nolan

Photo by M. Jost.

 When my son JJ was still young enough to sit in a stroller and not get fussy, we took walks in our tree-lined, main-street neighborhood where JJ enjoyed smiling at passersby. Most people smiled back. In fact, it was hard not to ignore his fat cheeks, wide grin, and a kind of bounce that he did when he saw another human being. The reason my son bounced in his stroller when he saw people walking passed us was because he could not wave to them.

My son also loved to look up at the trees. He was transfixed by them. It made me wonder. Did he see the changes in the colors of the leaves and branches from bare to budding green, then yellow, orange, and brown?

One particularly windy day while we were out on a walk, my son gazed up at the trees as we strolled down the grey, gum-stained sidewalk. I saw his arm and hand go up. I held my breath. Then his little pudgy hand moved. I stopped and watched him looking up at the tree. I saw leaves blowing in the wind. My son was waving back at them. Did he think the tree was waving hello to him and he was determined to wave back? I honestly thought in that the moment the billowing leaves were teaching my tot with Down syndrome how to wave his hands.


Funny how we spend our time researching the best toys and developmentally appropriate activities; and weed through second-hand toys at garage sales and thrift shops looking for gems, when what we are missing is right below us and beside us and above us, even in a busy street on a windy day.

Photo by Lisa Nolan


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