Oh the fun of bubbles! What great memories I have of blowing bubbles to entertain many different kids. Kids I babysat for, kids I taught in Sunday School, my nieces and nephews, kids I worked with in Mexico, Honduras, India, and China. Always the response was somewhere along the spectrum of joy. A crowd of kids in Honduras nearly caused a small riot racing and pushing each other to reach the bubbles that I was struggling to blow fast enough. I held the attention of some kids in India for more than 40 minutes as they screamed with delight each time I slowly blew a string of shimmery bubbles their direction. Even the most timid kids in Sunday School would reach out after eventually succumbing to the irresistible desire to pop a bubble. The catch-me-if-you-can teasing these fragile little globs create has always proven to be an easy way to entertain kids. Until I met James that is.
James, a four year old boy, was recently in the hospital for a bad case of diarrhea and malaria. Although he was getting better by the second day of admission he still looked sad and didn’t have a lot of energy so I decided to pull out my bottle of bubbles (I keep a secret stash at the nurses station) to see if I could brighten things up. There were a few other kids on the ward so I started blowing bubbles in their direction first. After predictable responses from the first two kids, I finally got to the bed that James was laying in. I didn’t blow the bubbles directly onto him, but rather let them float just out of his reach, tempting him. He stared at them but didn’t move. I blew a few more bubbles and he started to scowl. Uncertain about his reaction I blew a little harder and a few of the bubbles landed on his arm and popped. I expected at least a little smile but instead he shook his arm and grunted an angry little noise. I couldn’t believe it — a kid who didn’t like bubbles?? I blew one more string of bubbles his way, still amazed at his reaction, but this time as the bubbles landed around him on the bed he yelled something out in disgust and absolutely glared at me. He had yelled out in Yoruba so I didn’t understand his words, but everyone else on the ward burst into laughter. When one of the nurses finally stopped laughing I found out that poor little James had yelled out, “Why do you keep spitting on me?”
Oh dear! Poor James! After putting away the bubbles, I spent a little time with him to let him know I had meant no disrespect and just wanted to have some fun. He was very gracious after things were explained and we ended up having fun coloring with some crayons. His reaction however was fixed in my mind, I shall not soon forget the case of the disgusting bubbles.