Thursday, February 29, 2024

A little childlike openness would benefit us all

Yesterday I was out and about, and in one business there was a woman with a little girl, about 5 years old, in tow at the register. The little girl was staring at me. I noticed and looked her way, at which point she waved excitedly at me. I waved back and she was so thrilled when I did that she started jumping up and down, yanking on her mom’s jacket. 

Years ago I had a friend whose son, who was around 4 or 5 at the time, would get so excited every time he’d see me that he’d start yelling “My cowboy!” and run to me to show me the toy he was carrying or tell me some important news. 

That sort of thing has been common.

I’ve never been a “kid person”, but they have always been drawn to me anyway. Often when I didn’t think I had the time or inclination to engage with them. 

People have told me that it may be because I don’t talk down to kids. And I’m willing to do things like show them how I make fires without a lighter, pick apart owl pellets to find bones, or look at bugs under a magnifying glass. Things they aren’t normally exposed to by “normal” adults.

The same things that catch the interest of kids have often made adults unable to connect with me. Or so it seems. 

In my experience most adults would rather talk about their team— sportsball or politics. Things I can’t really discuss intelligently (by their standards), and which quickly bore me anyway.

However, that sometimes changes when a kid’s parent sees whatever I’m showing their child through their child’s eyes. Suddenly they are open to something they wouldn’t have been open to before. I’ve made friends this way, when I probably wouldn’t have been able to get to know the parent otherwise.

And, even in other cases, I hope I’ve made some positive impact on the kid. Maybe given them a spark of curiosity they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Or, even just brightened their day because an adult took notice and waved back.

Here are some of the