Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rubber Ducky--You're the One

You were tiny! Very cute w/long hair. Very opinionated, even then! You liked playing with small toys--legos, Fisher price Little people, Barbies--you built villages. You liked to sing in the tub--to your amazing collection of bath toys--I called your songs your operas. You liked to go outside, no matter the season. You were fearless.” -My mom on me.

Waving around a Christmas ornament that I have just purchased him, a young boy has a big smile on his face. The ornament, which has a bell inside of it has become less of an ornament, and more of a toy. Suddenly the string comes loose from his hand, the ornament crashes to the ground, and the decoration becomes one less accessory to the tree, and one more worry for the broom. Tears from the boy start to shed, and sorry’s start wailing out of his mouth. “It’s okay,” I say, not angry, “It happens…don’t cry, it will be okay.” He runs to the other room and watches television with sadness in his eyes. One day he’ll remember this and think “My gosh, it was just a bell.” But for now—it’s the only thing he can find real sadness for in his life. And I envy that.

Only recently, maybe two years ago, have I started to truly love children—and I don’t mean in that creepy SVU kind of way. I mean I really love children. I love that they have this 6th sense for the world, that they seem to know everything that is happening, and that they seem to know how to get what they want. They have magical powers (maybe it’s their ability to be adorable), but they really do. They have an ability to know when we are having a bad day and when we need a hand to hold. They have the ability to draw a picture that looks nothing like us but makes us feel wonderful just the same. And of course they have the ability to make us remember that life can be as simple as bruises on our knees, cuts on our elbows, and shattered bells on the kitchen floor.

They don’t cry about money, the economic crisis, or the rumors of the end of the world in 2012. They don’t question how green the population of the world is or how terrible the government is. They just live.

During my babysitting escapades, here in Italy, I have gotten to know two adorable children very quickly. As I learn about them, I also have been learning from them. Not only is their English better than mine was when I was 4 and 5, but their knack of knowing things about the world is simply superb. Full of energy, they are completely aware of their surroundings, how to get their way, and how to push the right buttons. They are fearless in speaking to me, asking me questions, and waiting for my response—even if half the time I can’t give them one (as I can’t understand too much of their Italian). The little girl and I even have a routine set in stone… “Question in Italian…” ‘Blank Stare from me.’ “Question again in Italian.” ‘Blank stare again…’ “Libby!” “Non lo so (I don’t know)” “Question again in Italian…” “No capisco. Parlo Inglese! (I don’t understand, I speak English)” “Ugh. No capisco”—Little Girl. Sometimes it works the other way around. “What did you eat today?”-Me “Yes.” But somehow it doesn’t matter, we get eachother---and we laugh and we play and we forget these moments have even happened. And then, not long later, we play the same Italian-English game again with the same questions and answers. Sometimes, I can ask the boy for help—and sometimes it’s just easier to let it go—something kids are lucky to have the ability to do.

Hannah, who I often reference in my blog, wrote a post that asked how the little girl she was in the past would feel about her now. My gosh, if only we could sit down with our little selves and have a conversation, what would that little self say.

While I can’t say how the conversation would go exactly, I think that our little selves would remain the same. They would look at us…hold our hand, tell us they drew us a picture of us together—(that of course looked nothing like either of us—ears coming out of our chins—pants with two different size legs—and a non existent nose)—and say “Smile!” They would know we were upset—but they probably wouldn’t know why we were upset so they would just smile in their adorableness, and make us want to go back.

My little self would probably build me a lego fort to sit in, and then sing to me from the bathtub. She would probably have a million bath toys surrounding her and would go on to ask me to jump right in… And I probably would… and I’d look at her and smile and I’d think to myself, “Gosh, I really always was a goof…” and then I’d probably pick up a rubber yellow ducky and sing right along—putting all my worries behind. For once, in my grown-up life time, I’d be the 4 year old who was fearless…the 4 year old who didn’t stop to wonder why the sky was blue or why the grass was green—the 4 year old who just lived with the magical power of adorableness...

okay well…I guess I still have that power.

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