I was in an elevator with Giovanna and a sweet old man the other day. We were at Trader Joe’s and his cart contained one thing: a case of Charles Shaw wine. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with Charles Shaw, you might know it by its other name: two-buck chuck). The man spoke of his love for little ones. You could see his sincerity, his passionate love for children in the sparkle of his eye and the hunch of his back.
Giovanna smiled at him and waved good-bye. I think she made his day. She makes every one of my days. Small children live in a different world than adults, a world unencumbered by lies and knowledge. They are curious creatures, eager to love anyone who loves them without prejudice, judgment or pretexts. Humans are this way for but a fraction of life. There’s nothing we can do to maintain their innocence, nor should we try to. All we can do is savor every moment of each person’s brief childhood.
But we are fallible creatures and often we forget. Too many adults resort to shooing away a small child who is trying to connect, whether that child is their own or a stranger in a coffee shop. Recently, I watched a man (in my favorite independent cafe) tell my daughter to go away. He was sitting on the couch that Giovanna also loves to sit on, eating a sandwich and reading a newspaper. She smiled nervously and tried to play it off, and I swooped her up and distracted her. Two days later, in the exact same spot, Giovanna approached another solo man reading and eating (this one was considerably older and wiser), and the man immediately turned his attention from his book to the 2 year old curly-haired little girl standing below him, greeting her with smiles and kind words, eager to relate to another human being.
I know we all have bad days, I know not everyone wants to talk to my child no matter how much she wants to talk to them, I know the first man was probably just not in the mood. But I wish he had been. Because if he was having a bad day, he missed a golden, light-filled opportunity to make it a whole lot better.