I am visiting a child care setting and am lucky enough to be invited on a forest walk on a cold icy day. Emma looks at me steadily “Where did you come from?” she asks. I answer that I am a visitor and will be coming weekly. She walks beside me and begins to talk:
“Do you want some ice? I found this for you. Do you need a stick? You could have this stick. Do you want to make a hole in the ice? You pound a stick like this. Come with me, pound right here. I have another piece of ice for you. Can I hold your hand? Want to have lunch with us? I could give you some of my lunch.”
Emma stayed by my side for the rest of the walk, chatting easily. Milo joined us, took my other hand and solemnly declared that all animals and all people poo and pee. All of them. He described how he did a little dance when he had to pee but couldn’t get to a toilet, and we all laughed and did the ‘pee pee dance”. We continued to walk and talk and laugh until we arrived back at the school.
Sometimes in our writing, thinking, philosophizing, and planning I think we may forget that the best thing about being with kids is talking with them. Shooting the breeze. Just listening and chatting and laughing.
The fact is we adults spend a lot of time talking to kids, directing, instructing, cautioning, marshalling. We listen, but sometimes it’s a polite gesture, we smile and move on. On that walk I had the chance to have a long and interesting conversation, meandering through topics, getting to know two very interesting people.
I left that visit happy, and I smiled the rest of the day. I was blindsided by the kindness of two children I didn’t know who took me by the hand and welcomed me into their group. They reminded about what is important; enjoying the company of interesting people.