I make it a habit to sit quietly and listen to kids talk. A wonderland of wisdom disguised as childish exchanges awaits us if we take the time to actually hear what our little people say. The way these young souls look at the world, their abandon when trying anything new, their impossible affinity to technology and anything digital, their belief in anything magical, their no-nonsense approach to everything they need to tackle, their vulnerabilities mixed with their solid determination, their blind trust in us that puts us on edge, their funny remarks that were never meant to be funny, everything about them amazes me, and makes me want to hear more. I want to learn their ways.
The secret with kids is their attitude. They face the world like a puppy does with a trusted master. The key to children’s attitude is trust. They approach situations with an unrealistic conviction that things will turn out right in the end. They are often disappointed, but hardly ever lose hope, they still believe Tom will actually win over annoying Jerry in the next episode, which never really happens. Or maybe that was just me as a child. I always hated Jerry and kept hoping Tom will win one day.
One thing my teenage daughter said today that made me realize she was adorably still a kid, was a casual remark. She was planning with me a weekend outing that she believed was happening tomorrow, I said it was only Tuesday, and she remarked “I love the summer vacation because you never know what day it is”. In the car going to an iftar (the evening meal breaking the fast during Ramadan), she dreamily remarked “I used to love it as a small child when my feet didn’t reach the floor in the car”. Vivid memories of childhood never really leave us. I remember lying face up in the space behind the back seats in my dad’s car, right under the back windshield, counting the electric polls overhead, and falling asleep with the lights flicking by, one hundred and twelve, two thousand, where was I? Back then, Lebanon had electricity all the time, street lights were still intact before they became target practice in the war, and life was too slow for seat belts, I don’t remember ever wearing them growing up. One conversation I heard my parents have while on my back perch watching the street lights flick idly overhead will never leave my memory. “Why can’t I have a car?” “You don’t need one, I am driving you everywhere.” “But I want my own car. When will I get a car, when all the women fly around in their own planes?” Gasp! Oh My God. I wished so hard that that would happen, that my dad will then have to buy my mom a small plane an we would ride in it, and then I would become a woman and also have my own plane. Flick, flick, went the lights. I must have slept and dreamt of a white flying car. I still have this dream.
My littlest one was having a conversation in the back of the car with her friend while I was driving them home tonight. “I think this boy Ghadi loves me.” My daughter answered “Really? Are you going to marry him? Ewwwww”. “Of course I will have to marry him, that’s the way it is”. “Where will you live?” “We will live in a house and I will not marry another boy, and he will not marry another girl, because we are not allowed and because the house will be too full of people, where will they sleep?” “And Santa and the tooth fairy are watching” “Of course they are, and God and the angels, they are all watching us and we need to be good and marry only one boy”. “Okay, but are you sure that Santa doesn’t die?” “No, and even if he does, they will get another Santa”. “Phew”. “I like cow and chicken”. “Haha, remember when cow married the man, but it was a dream.” “Very funny”. “I think so too.”
If I can only borrow their carefree attitudes for one day, that would be just great.