Monday, June 2, 2014

To be a child again

It’s pretty simple, if the bus doesn’t find you waiting, it leaves you. We all know this and that is why on this morning, realizing that we were running late, we tried our best to perform miracles. I beseeched the girls to gulp their tea instead of sipping it with pursed lips as their pinky fingers saluted the sky a la the rich housewives of some city or the other. I tried to make them brush their teeth with the speed of lightening. I even coerced them to find whatever was missing from their bags-a misplaced pencil, book, rubber-as I filled their water bottles. The shoe laces, the jackets, handkerchiefs in pockets.

Sometimes, miracles do happen. This wasn’t the morning for them though. All the above made little difference to prevent us from being late. And just as we were struggling to sling school bags over tiny shoulders we heard the bus come to a halt outside our gate.

We make for the door. Bags slung on shoulders. We are out of the door. We are running. Running like mad. Running like Kalenjins out to win a race.  Then as the bus engine revs and the bus starts to move, I yell for it to wait. “WAIT!” Hailey decides to yell with me. Soon we are one mad woman with two kids yelling and running at 6.15am. The neighborhood is barely awake. I bet they all heard us. I bet one Kipruto was busy dreaming of how well his shamba was doing. How his yields were coming up pretty well. Maybe his wife Chelagat was just turning in bed trying to catch last minute morsels of sleep  before she would wake up to prepare dreaming Kipruto some breakfast. Only for both to be jolted out of their sleep with yells of “WAIT! WAIT!”  I think we owe our neighbors an apology.

Lucky for us, the stars aligned prettily that morning because the driver heard us. Then again, who didn’t? He stopped and waited as I opened the gate, held each child’s hand and lead them to the waiting bus. I tried smiling at him apologetically but he wasn’t into showing teeth at that hour of the morning. I gave up. Just as I was about to lift Heidi onto the bus, she lets go of my hand, retreats from my grasp and points to the sky gleefully yelling “MOON! Mum, Moon! Look, moon!”

I am dumbfounded. In all that rush, she took the time to spot the moon? NOW? I tried to ignore her and put her on the bus anyway but she wouldn’t let up until I acknowledged the moon. So I looked up and put on a smile. “Moon!” I marveled with feigned excitement. Only then did she allow me to lift her onto the bus and Hailey followed suit. After keeping the bus waiting for ten seconds, I wouldn’t dare look at the driver again. First we were late, and now we were holding the bus to stare at the moon? We are terrible, terrible people!

But it was a few seconds that did not really matter to the driver; it did not change his schedule. Those ten seconds however meant a lot to Heidi. She took the time to notice something she felt was quite important. She goes to school every day, but you don’t see a full moon in all its glory in the wee hours of every morning. Just for the record, Heidi was onto something. It was a full moon, big, white and bright. A spectacular sight.

While I was thinking that I should put them on the bus as fast as possible she was thinking that the bus had already stopped anyway, so what was the harm in taking a few seconds to look at the moon. I did not think of that but her 3 year old mind did.

I marvel at a child’s mind. Children perceive the world with awe and curiosity. Look the moon is out! There is a flower! The shining stars! An adult mind assumes it already knows too much. It stops being curious. It doesn’t stop to notice the simple things because we believe we already have all the answers. We therefore deny ourselves a chance to learn a great deal in the process. A bunch of know-it-alls is what we are.

We grownups suck the joy out of life. We focus only on challenges, on bigger, difficult things, while ignoring the simple pleasures. We forget that solutions to complicated matters lie in the very simple day to day activities. An apple falling from a tree is something most of us would not give a second glance. How boring is that!?  Yet Newton the genius was paying attention when that apple fell.

Sometimes, we have to be reminded to stay still and notice what is going on around and within us. We pay for yoga and meditation classes because we really don’t know how to stay still anymore. We are always on the move. We have to learn to focus on our breathing, our beating hearts. Important things that we ignore because we have more important things to do?

I don’t think I like being grown up. Not if growing up means not asking questions, not being curious, not noticing the simple stuff that adults pass by all the time. I don’t want to grow up if I don’t get to play. If it means not getting to experience the magic moments handed to us by the universe.

To perceive the world through the eyes of a child means never once asking yourself what people will think about you because that really doesn’t matter. Not being ashamed of saying the words “I don’t know” and therefore learning something new in the process.

Everybody is in a rush nowadays. But I will stop. I will stop being impatient. I will take a pause, take a deep breath. Turn off my cell phone. Look away from my computer. Wait for the light to turn green before crossing the road. I will stop running and instead kick the pebbles on the road. I will calm my overworked mind. Find my inner child, ergo inner peace.


I will be a child again. Because kids will teach you. Then teach you some more. And if you are a good learner, they will change you.


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