I was sitting on the bus today, and across from me sat a little boy. He was maybe two. He was wearing a heavy winter coat, and his feet barely extended past the end of the seat. He looked less like a boy and more like a small pile of laundry with a head on top. Seemingly unaware of everything around him, his attention was directed towards his right foot, which he swung around in circles. And when he got bored with that, he stopped, and continued to stare ahead.
One of the best parts about French public transit are the little kids that ride the bus. I remember from the psych courses that I took the mirroring principle in which we tend to copy those we are having an interaction with. Often, if we see someone smiling, we tend to do the same without thinking about it. The same goes with frowning. We might not frown, but we might take on a more negative attitude as a result. You can read more about it here if you are interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirroring_(psychology).
Like I said, the best part about riding the bus are the kids. They’ll often try to copy whatever ridiculous face you make at them. What I like most is that they are not afraid to laugh if they find you funny. A lot of people seem to be afraid to make eye-contact on the bus, so they’ll just stare out the window, but little kids are different. They have no reservations, and they’re fun. One of the people that I have grown close to here is a lot like that. I will call her Liz.
A couple of years ago I talked with an English professor about the differences between childish and childlike. We often forget to distinguish between the two, but there is a large difference that one should be aware of. Childish has a negative connotation, and just means that you have some maturing to do, like perhaps you still lie to avoid taking responsibility for your actions, or something like that. Childlike, on the other hand, I associate with the traits of children that we should try and hold onto–innocence, openness, our imaginations… Liz has a lot of these good traits, and reminds me of the kids that I see on the bus.
Her imagination is unparalleled. One time Liz, Bartholomew, and I were having coffee and tea in our favorite café–Café Tourangeau–and she started playing with her teapot. It was no longer a teapot, but had become a small territorial elephant who felt threatened by B’s teapot. I don’t think B’s small elephant necessarily had any qualms with Liz’s small elephant, but when someone else is mad at you without reason and is unwilling to cooperate, one is not left with many choices. Eventually the little metal spoon that came with my café au lait became implicated in the matter, but his involvement did not end up mattering much.
She then drew our attention to a little boy with glasses climbing around on the booth behind us near his mom who was sitting at a nearby table. It was one of those times where the child was just restless, you know?–when they make eye-contact with you because they’re just looking for something else to do other than sit quietly and listen to their mom’s boring conversation that excludes talk of good guys and bad guys. She told me that earlier that day she was on the bus, and she saw another little boy similar to the one who was making eye-contact with us. He was trying to read the newspaper, or was reading it for all we know, and it was one of the strangest things that she had seen. Perhaps he was an old man trapped in a child’s body.
Liz also gives really nice hugs. She gives you a small squeeze at the end to let you know that she means it when she says, “Have a good trip home,” or “Tonight was fun.” She also rides a long board which makes her ten times cooler. Finally, she draws. I haven’t seen much of her art, other than a poster that she designed for a friend’s concert, but I know that she has a lot of heart and a big imagination, thus I would bet that her art is lovely. I showed her a small piece that I had written about a boy who falls in-love with the sun, and she said that she would try and do the illustrations for it. I hope that we can publish a children’s book together someday. That would be a dream.
I want to share you with one last thing–a music video by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros about the importance of staying in-touch with our inner-child. It’s beautiful. They are the traits that will get us furthest in life.
P.S. I should give credit to Stephen Chbosky for his book The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I have recently been addressing my journal entries and signing them in the same fashion that his main character, Charlie, does. Thus, the credit should be attributed to him.