Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Oh to be a child again!

Ask any of my children and they will tell you that I am the most immature of all of us-and they are probably right!   I just love children and being a child right alongside of them.

There is a train in the Paris metro that is driverless-you can sit up front and watch as the train barrels through the metro tunnel. Many parents bring their children up front so that they can pretend to drive the train. Their eyes are as wide as saucers. I am in this train many times a week and I love to sit up front with the children. To the horror of the parents I start to play with the children and I give them encouragement on how to "drive" the train. "Freins doucement" (brake carefully) I tell them as we come into a railway station. As I see a train coming towards us from the other direction I act in mocked fear, "Mais non, attention! Evites l'autre train s'il te plaît!" (Oh no, careful now! Please avoid the other train!)

Each time I start to play with them, after looking at me in surprise, they get really serious about their task of driving that train. Recently a young girl of about 8yrs "drove" the train for a number of stations with me, going through all the motions of starting up and stopping the train. She and her parents then got off at the Gare de Lyon, about halfway along the train's journey. As she was about to go I looked at her with a face full of concern, "Mais qui va conduire le train maintenant?" (But who is going to drive the train now?) Her reply was so calm and so mature compared with my pretended panic. "Mais vous, madame!" (in other words, 'You Madame') Then as she got onto the platform she kept looking back to make sure that I was taking my new task seriously. I dutifully waved back at her with one hand on the little handle right at the front of the train in pretense of driving. She smiled knowingly and took off hand in hand with her somewhat horrified parents.

It is these kind of moments that help bring me to reality amid all the pretense and playing. Children are our most precious resource and playing with them heals my heart and makes me forget for a brief moment the pains and trials of the adult world. Rather than bringing children too soon into our world, let's all go into theirs more often.

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