“Why are we snooping like this?” I asked Xavier as we have been watching our child for almost half an hour now. The plan was to come here, see Elijah and leave after talking to him for a while so that Dad and Claire gets time with him but now we have told Dad that we were staying longer to give Ace some time to make a new friend and Dad left us to do something more productive than watching two kids.
“We are not snooping. We are just watching them to make sure they are alright.” Xavier justified.
Ace and Kai have been lost in their world and didn’t care about the other kids in the backyard. Kai seemed very shy and uttered only one word replies most of the time but Ace didn’t seemed to mind that.
“Oh no! Mamma and Daddy doesn’t know I’m here. They must be so worried.” Ace said remembering that he hadn’t come to us yet. He had told Dad he wants to come to me and Xavier after we left for washroom and I guess he lost his way and later tripped onto the ground which then led him to Kai.
“Oh. Bye.” Kai mumbled sounding sad.
“Do you want meet my parents?” Ace asked and Kai merely shrugged his shoulders.
“Let’s go.” Xavier said and we both walked to the children hand in hand.
“Mamma! Daddy!” Ace called out upon seeing us and I noticed the way Kai nervously hid behind Ace.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you where I was and for making you worry.” He apologised immediately.
“Ace, if you want to spend time with someone or somewhere please do inform us beforehand or else you know we will be going around looking for you. Good thing we found you soon. We’ll talk about this more when we get back home. Now why don’t you introduce us to your friend?”
“I know, Daddy. I won’t repeat it again. And this is Kai. He is awesome.” Ace said moving a little sideways so that we could see Kai.
“Hello, Kai. I’m Xavier.”
“Too tall.” Kai mumbled nervously while playing with his fingers.
“Is it okay now?” Xavier asked after crouching down in front of them and Kai gave a small nod. I was about to do the same but was stopped by Ace.
“Mamma, no. Please sit on the bench.” He said and tugged my hand to lead me to the bench while Xavier stood up to stand beside me.
“Kai, this is my Mamma. Her name is Eva James Whilson.” Ace introduces proudly and I feared whether Kai would be upset about Ace boasting about his parent while he had none.
“Hello, Kai. How are you doing?” I asked smiling at his cuteness. He was curiously watching me and Xavier through his lashes but remained close to Ace.
“Kai g-good. Eva good?”
“I’m doing great, Kai. Are you and Ace friends now?”
“Yes, Mamma. Kai is my friend now and he is so cool.” Ace praised and I saw Kai blushing and awkwardly shuffling around.
“Is Ace your friend too, Kai?” I asked and Kai nodded vigorously before sighing tiredly and shifting his weight.
“That’s great. Would you like to sit down for sometime? You look exhausted.”
“Sit down, Kai. You are tired.” Ace said and held Kai’s hand before leading him to the bench.
“Daddy.” Ace called and gestured to Kai. Xavier carefully lifted Kai up and sat him down beside me and then did the same with Ace.
“Would you like to have some water?” Xavier asked but Kai shook his head negatively.
“Kai fine.” He mumbled not making eye contact with us.
“How old are you Kai?” I asked and he held up his three fingers with his pinkie folded weirdly.
“Four?” I asked but he shook his head and pointed at his pinkie with his other hand.
“Five?” Xavier guessed but Kai shook his head negatively.
“Three and half, silly.” He said giggling and I almost let out an ‘aw’ at the sound of his giggles.
“And I’m five.” Ace mentioned.
“You are one and half older than me.” Kai said and I almost laughed at his words.
“We are one year and few months apart.” Ace cleared up for him.
Xavier and I sat quietly and just listened to them talk. Kai was talking a bit freely now but still stuttered a bit and talked only few sentences at a time.
“Soft.” Kai mumbled while playing with my hair.
“Thank you.” I said and noticed him glancing at Xavier once in a while.
“Up, please.” He asked holding his arms out requesting Xavier to pick him up who looked shocked for a minute.
“Up, please.” Kai asked again and Xavier glanced at Ace to see how he would react as he is very possessive of his parents.
“Kai wants you to pick him, Daddy.” Ace said thinking Xavier didn’t get what Kai meant.
“Alright.” Xavier said looking at me before lifting the small boy up.
“So high.” Kai said looking down at me and Ace.
“I’m not that tall.” Xavier said but Kai stared at him with ‘are you kidding me?’ look which shut him up.
“He is like a huge tower.” Ace said laughing and was soon thrown over Xavier’s shoulder.
“Teasing your father now are we?” Xavier asked and began tickling Ace while carefully holding Kai with other arm.
“No. Stop. Kai, help.” Ace said between his laughs. Kai decided to be mischievous and tried tickling both Ace and Xavier at the same time.
“That’s not fair.” Both Ace and Xavier said at the same time and teamed up against Kai who wiggled out of Xavier’s arms and began running away.
“Daddy, catch him.” Ace said while he ran behind Kai and was followed by Xavier.
A lady who worked there sat down beside me while I was busy watching the boys. She stared at Xavier and the children for sometime before she started speaking to me about Kai.
“Kai has always been the shy one. He rarely ever talks to anyone and stayed away from people in general and did things that only made sense to him. Some of his behavior and actions in the past made us think that he might be autistic but the doctor proved our theory wrong. It’s just the way Kai is and we eventually came in terms with it. We did try to get him more involved in conversations time to time but he wasn’t comfortable and so we had to give up. But now looking at him laughing and playing brings me so much joy. Your son succeeded in making Kai talk and laugh so jubilantly while all of us here failed at it for years. He bought so much improvements and happiness in Kai in this short span of time and I’m very thankful for it.” She said while her eyes never strayed away from Kai.
“How long has he been here for?”
“Since he was a baby. His mom had passed away during labour and few weeks later his father had a terrible accident and he too passed away. Kai had no other family to take care of him so he was brought here.” She said with a sad smile.
“Has no one ever wanted to adopt him?”
“People did seem interested in adopting him when they first see him. He is an adorable and sweet child and it’s hard not to like him. But Kai was never comfortable in their presence. He wouldn’t utter a word to them and gave them no response. Sometimes it would get too much for him that he would start crying and all of them eventually gave up on him. Sometimes we take all the kids here out for a day but he always chose to stay back because over the years he has been here this place has become his comfort zone and stepping out of it brought him so much anxiety.” She said and I don’t know if I should blame my hormones or not but I began crying at her words and she looked panicked.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Xavier asked immediately coming to my side. I just hugged him sideways and continued crying.
“What did you do? Why is she crying?” Xavier asked the woman.
“I don’t know. We were just talking and then she started sobbing all of a sudden.”
“Mamma, it’s okay. Please don’t cry. Everything will be okay.” I heard Ace say and felt him pat my knees. I looked down to see him and Kai looking at me in concern and as soon as I saw Kai I picked him up and brought him to my arms.
“You are so precious.” I mumbled to him and he snuggled more into my arms. Few minutes later I placed him down and began wiping my tears away.
“Sorry, it’s just my hormones messing up with me.” I said and looked at Ace to see if he would charge at Kai since I hugged him but Ace looked more concerned for me. I felt the lady beside me leaving to check on other kids but she turned to give me a smile before getting back to her duties.
“You are not hurt right?”
“I’m not hurt, Little one. I promise.” I said and gave him a kiss on his cheek.
“Don’t scare me like that ever again, woman.” Xavier snapped at me and I glared at him in anger.
“It’s not my fault my hormones are acting up. It’s your fault.” I snapped back and he quickly apologized before giving me a hug.
“Eva okay?” Kai asked sounding worried.
“I’m okay, Kai.” I assured and he gave me a small smile. Xavier sat beside me and both the boys sat on his lap where they once again began talking about each other’s favorites.
Sometime later all the kids were asked to go back inside to eat and Kai looked very upset when he said goodbye and left. Ace too was reluctant to leave and dragged his feet towards the car.
“We’ll try to come back again, Ace.” I said as my child haven’t spoken a word since we left the orphanage.
“We have to, Mamma. We have to.” He insisted and I nodded in agreement.