There’s something funny about watching an adult interact with a child – especially when you can’t see the child.
Has that ever happened to you? You’re walking down the street or sitting on the bus, and suddenly you notice this full-grown person – dressed for work and otherwise serious – making weird expressions and periodically smiling.
What is that person doing? You find yourself thinking – or maybe that’s just me, being somewhat judgmental. And then, just as you start to wonder if they’re having some sort of episode, you realize that there’s a small child who’s joyfully mimicking their every action.
Suddenly it all makes sense. Now it’s a reasonable way to act.
Normally, adults are so dour. Especially when commuting. They’re all business and serious and so carefully constructing a world in which they are the only inhabitant. Eye contact is frowned upon. Smiling is frowned upon. Acknowledging eachother’s existence is frown upon.
I cherish those moments when the walls come tumbling down.
I was once on a packed subway train (in Boston). Someone passed out in the middle of the car and within seconds the message was passed to the end of the car where someone could tell the driver to stop. In that moment, everyone responded as one. It was like a yelling game of telephone – the car was so full a frantic yell was the only way to get the message across. I never saw who passed out or who hit the button. But for that brief moment people interacted and did what they could to help.
And seeing an adult with a child – especially one they don’t know – is like that. For that brief little window, they come out of their box, smile and wave at the child who insists on saying “hi” to everybody, and before you know it, the adults are smiling at each other.
How precious, they say.