“My Dad has never ever tied my shoelaces!” cried in outrage young Adam (8) stopping me in my tracks the day we were reading a book about what fathers do for their children. The book went on about how Dads spend time with their kids in the park, enjoy picnics, vacations, visits to the zoo or sports matches. I put the book aside sensing the pain of my young friend. His father, as too many men in Manabí, has never attended to his casual offsprings, he has another family that is equally abandoned. And as for a father figure, Adam has nothing to go by. but our caring male volunteers. I turned to Adam in an adult tone -always appreciated by him- and said, “you know what, never mind your father, he is mistaken and it's his loss; let's talk about you and what things you will share and teach your son or daughter whenever you are ready to be a parent; and as for shoelaces… you don't need anybody to tie them, we wear sandals…! We both burst out in laughter.
We´ve come a long way with Adam, we still recall the first time he stepped into the Library, we didn't know quite what to make of him. He was a young creature with hirsute hair sticking out of his baseball cap, an avid and wild look in his eyes, he could not stay still for a second and went ahead on his own exploration, grabbing books, crayons, other children's work; absolutely oblivious of our greeting or invitation to join an activity. Many months went on like this, with Adam´s sudden entrances like a curious whirlwind, fetching stuff, snatching crayons, putting them down and running out. I must admit that I was in awe at his apparent self-sufficiency, nothing caught his attention for more than a few seconds, he seemed to look through you, never making eye contact.
We can't pinpoint when the change started to happen, was it a particular volunteer who interested him in music classes? or was it the Art Murals? or Storytime corner… Anyway, something slowly enabled him to pace his speedy visits. It's been almost a year now that Adam is a regular patron at the Library. “I'm here!” he announces himself every morning as soon as the Library door opens; he arrives neatly groomed, wearing his spiderman mask, he goes about washing his hands, taking his temperature, and registering. There is always a project he is working on, whether it's a beach parking space he is building with old boxes, where he plans to charge astronomical prices for toy car parking or a replica of Saturn and its rings. Adam is extremely bright, even though he learned the basic steps of reading and enjoys immensely listening when somebody else reads out loud; he resists reading himself. We haven't figured out why, but we suppose he will come around to it. He is always curious about astronomy, dinosaurs, cars, animals.... His best trait is his kind demeanor with other children, especially shy girls, and small boys; his vigilante disposition calls out injustice and abuse. In short, Adam -in his own terms- will be an avid reader soon, he will probably go on to study whatever he chooses; but more importantly, he will be a good man, a great Dad. And for that, we are so proud.
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