We all start small.
Recent encounters with the youngest among us have reminded me of how much we have to learn, to figure out, and … accept as we grow.
Children are miraculous sponges, absorbing, taking the world in -- and storing it all for future reference.
While waiting in line at a department store the other day, I noticed a little girl standing at the counter with her father. As her dad and the cashier went through the everyday motions of a sale, the little one stood transfixed. She observed every part of the transaction intently: handing over the clothes, scanning, swiping, typing, bagging -- done!
Lesson in the marketplace complete.
That intensity of focus is impressive.
I saw another example of it this week, while walking our dog, Louie, past a neighborhood park where a mom and two little girls were playing. When the toddler of the two spotted Lou, she headed straight for the fence between us. Eyes laser-focused on the dog, she pointed (in a way that suggested the gesture was fairly newly learned), and said quietly, "Woof, woof."
"Ah, you speak his language," I said.
"Yes, she's fluent," her proud mom replied.
Lesson in communication complete.
Alas, in life, some lessons are harder learned.
At the library where I work, we offer several story times, including one for the under-2 set.
Story times are reliably upbeat and positive. One memorable session, however, reminded me of "existential story time," a running joke I share with a friend whose sense of humor also veers to the dark side.
Think Mr. Rogers with angst.
After listening to stories and moving to music, one little girl simply could not accept the concept of having to give back the bead-filled plastic egg she'd been given to shake along with the song.
"I want my egg," she said. "Mommy, I want my egg."
She repeated her plea, over and over again. Maternal explanations did not compute.
She began to wail, and her patient mom carried her outside. I could still hear her beyond the door: "I want my egg," her voice ranging from small and plaintive to loud and adamant, trying to find the right tone that would bring back her egg.
They came back in.
The librarian said, "Ok, everybody. Pick out a book to read with your mommy."
"I want my egg."
Sigh. Egg-istential lesson, not quite complete.