27 Jul A Love Letter to Children – Vive les Enfants!
I just returned from an absolutely perfect trip to Paris with my sister. We had so much fun together and with the French. My Franglais served as a source of entertainment for the French and a chance for me to again and again see that fun is the most universal language.
As we walked on these ancient and beautiful narrow streets together we looked into very busy patisseries, tiny fruit and vegetable markets and many beyond bustling cafes. The smell of coffee, bread, butter and wine let us know we were on the most wonderful trip.
My sister has lived in Paris six months of the year for decades, and had a Parisian life to live while we visited. When she had an appointment, I, the almost non-speaking totally American soul had a little Parisian life sometimes too. I loved the cafes and I marveled at how many older women, solo or with one other friend, had wine, champagne or Pastis at any hour. I could feel their love of these little times. They would smile at me as I sipped my red wine, somehow allowing me to be a part of their times as well as my own. The French just love spur of the moment times and just create them all of the time.
As I walked along the tiny streets, I suddenly was stunned by the absence of children. I could never find one. Couples of all ages and older women were everywhere but never with children. My sister said that probably they were on vacation.
One day in a beautiful small Moroccan restaurant, I heard a young child coughing. It was the first sound uttered by someone young I’d heard in days. I turned around to see if the child was all right. I was happy to at last see a little person, and even better, he wasn’t choking but had a cough.
As we walked to the Eiffel Tower, there were a few more children. Yay! I felt so happy to see them, but that was it for days. More than anything I was lonesome for children. Their size is so adorable, as is the way they think and all that they notice. Their love of the ridiculous and ability to find it and create hilarity calls to me.
As a nursery school teacher, my daily life for the last forty years has been graced by children’s inimitable life-giving openness. In the most beautiful city in the world, and on the most fun trip, I still wanted these quotidian exchanges, I felt my fathoms’ deep gratitude to children. I adore them and feel they are almost my oxygen. I didn’t want to hurry our vacation at all, but I couldn’t wait to see a four-year-old again.
At the airport, our farewell hugs just about did us in. As I put my passport, boarding pass and carry-on bag in the gray plastic bin, tears streamed down my cheeks. But then… walking up the stairs to my gate, I heard someone say, “It’s a long flight so a pee-pee run is a good idea.” I looked down. There was a four-year-old boy! My sad heart skipped a dozen beats. The boy’s father and I smiled at one another just as the little boy noticed the bee on my bag. “I like your bag. I like bees. They make us honey. ” I just beamed at this little dark haired person as I thanked him. I felt like picking him up and hugging him. As I watched them walk to the bathroom, I knew I had it all – a trip I would never ever forget – a deeper love for my sister – and the realization that my love of very young children gives my life the meaning, fun and richness that I worship. I thank you, dear children.
Written by – Anne Martine Cook. Anne has 40+ years experience teaching nursery school children.
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