It was a Memphis street, a tourist destination off of Beale, a boy of 11 or 12 sets out a large yellow bucket and proceeds to flip down the concrete. Back handsprings, back tucks, whip backs...at least a dozen in a row. Stopped now, grinning and sweating, in the thick 90+ temperatures.
People applaud and approach, drop change and loose bills into his bucket. Ask for more flips and off he goes. Baby girl and I watch, amazed. "Momma, it's a whip back on concrete!" And then, "What a cool job." Her stepdad hands her a ten and she shyly tells the boy that his flips are awesome and drops the money in the bucket.
I try to explain that it is kind of a job, that he is helping his family earn money and that because he is too young to work in any kind of store that this is what he does.
Then because I am a cheer mom and sometimes dumb, I quickly launch into my "Baby, you can do most of those tricks...you should get out there with him. It will be fun! Please. Pops can get some picture. C'mon"
"Will you give me money, too?” Ahhhh, greed.
She relents under the promise of $2. Does some back flips. The young boy comes and tells her she is awesome too.
Her stepdad hands her $2, and we find an air conditioned store and begin to pick out t-shirts.
"Momma, I'm going to go back outside with Nana." I only ask if she wants a t-shirt, mug, something. "No, ma'am. I'm good"
20 minutes later, husband and I are back outside, bags full of shirts we may or may not wear. I hear applause; the boy and his bucket are still working the street.
Baby girl sits on the curb, watching. My mom is misty-eyed, looking back and forth between them. And I know she feels badly for him.
She smiles, though, when I approach and whispers. "Baby girl gave him one of her two dollars."