She was a cute little girl, about 9 years old, with her hair in corn rolls and little rubber bands at the end of each braid. She and her mother were walking up the sidewalk toward the restaurant, but her mother forgot something and stepped back to her car. The girl just stood on the sidewalk.
We were leaving, and quite frankly, I was talking to my brother-in-law as we obliviously walked past the little girl. Turnabout is fair play, because I suspect she didn’t give either of us a moment’s notice either.
She did, however, zero in like a heat seeking missile on my wife, Janet. After passing a few parked car bumpers, we realized Janet was no longer with us. We turned around and Janet was kneeling down looking the little girl eye to eye.
The little girl was mesmerized as Janet spoke to her with a compassionate, peaceful smile on her face. She stared in her eyes soaking up the gentle words and kindness that naturally flow from Janet’s spirit as they talked briefly back and forth.
The mother retrieved whatever she was looking for and as she walked up, Janet smiled and spoke to the mother before joining us a few cars down.
I asked Janet what made her stop and talk to the girl.
Turns out, the little girl stopped her. As she walked by, the girl was looking up at her and reached out to touch her, so she knelt down to talk to her. In wide eyed astonishment, the little girl looked up and said, “You’re pretty!”
Janet was an elementary school teacher for years and thought she probably knew the little girl, or maybe the girl attended the same school but was in another teacher’s class. Smiling Janet asked, “Do I know you?” In total admiration, shook her head no before telling Janet how nice she was too.
To the school teacher in Janet, being admired so deeply by a total stranger child wasn’t a big deal.
To me, it’s amazing!
First, the little girl was right on both counts! Janet is both pretty and remarkably kind.
Second, how is it the most innocent souls among us can see people inside and out the most clearly? It’s uncanny how some children are so discerning! Maybe children have an innate character radar built in to discern who’s nice, good and safe…and those who aren’t.
Even more amazing, how is that we adults who have so much more knowledge, age and experience, often totally miss out on what children see so clearly? I don’t know.
Too bad we can’t see people through this little girl’s eyes — or better yet — remember how we did it years ago in our age of innocence.
Somehow, it seems like the world would look and fit together a whole lot better that way.