Coffee and Conversation: And Then She Was Ten…


Grab a cuppa and a comfy seat, and let’s chat a while.

It’s Monday -uhh, late Tuesday again – a little past time for Coffee and Conversation.

When I was six, my family was driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.

I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own..

So, why I am I late with this post?

It’s been a busy day. My daughter, once my baby girl, wanted to celebrate her birthday with a Girls’ Day – just the two of us. We went to see a movie – Earth to Echo. It was her first “teen” movie, and we both enjoyed it, although parts were scary and sad. We shopped – Monster High makeup kit, a cute kitty case for her Kindle, nail polish, and the all–important and very very pink birthday cake (which she says she’ll enjoy tomorrow).

We had dinner at a local favorite, Professor Java’s Coffee Sanctuary.

Everywhere we went, she complimented people and struck up conversations. She was a delight.

I’m not just saying that because I’m her mother. I’m saying it because she spread smiles and happiness around liberally, and left a wake of surprised adults who maybe aren’t very used to children who look them in the eye and engage them as equals.

Birthday candid. I treasure her.

It’s something I notice, because I was raised with the far more familiar dynamic of “adults before kids”. No, it isn’t said that way, not in so many words, but it is the way things were in my family, and mostly what I see in the interactions of people we see when we’re out and about.

Most adults seem to take children to the places the adults want to go; the places they value. Children get carted or dragged along, too, often, as though they are baggage or burdens. Often, the adults with them only speak directly to them when they’ve done something deemed worthy of correction.

Adults tend to talk to children they don’t know in scripts. “Are you glad school’s over?” asked a young woman working at Java’s.

Lise looked at her blankly; she never seems to be expecting these types of questions, and they aren’t relevant in her life. “I don’t go to school,” she answers, after a pause, thus negating the most frequent and equally irrelevant follow-up: “What grade will you be going into?”

Most kids who go to school know these scripts, and seem to expect nothing else from strange adults – a conversation amounting to shop talk, and not even very polite shop talk. After all, who likes to be reminded of their job by strangers while they’re on vacation? How about if the job was assigned to them by someone else, and they had no choice about doing it?

My daughter is different. She invites something I’ve seen from only a handful of kids used to living life by scripts. What is it?

Honest, joyful communication.

And there’s something very refreshing about watching her, as she’s growing older, and finding her own way of interacting with others. It heals the little girl I was, who didn’t have remotely as much confidence at her age, and who was expected to treat adults as somehow better than I was, by sheer virtue of them being older.

Watching my now ten-year old Force of Nature interact with people of many ages, genders, orientations, ethnicities, and varieties, finding beauty and seeking connection, awes me a little. Seeing her offer small kindnesses, like holding a heavy door for people coming in as we were going out, makes me very happy to have let go of the scripts I used to live by.

She’s growing in kindness and self-awareness – and, by virtue of being with her, so am I. There’s an indefinable treasure in it that can’t be wrapped up. It’s a gift to everyone it touches.

When was the last time you had an unscripted conversation with a child? Did you know them, or meet them in passing? What did you talk about? Did you come away feeling energized and a little amazed at all that could be held in such a small person? Were you a little unnerved at the audacity of the child? Grab a fresh cuppa, and let’s chat a while!

6 comments

  1. One of the advantages of writing for children is that you quickly learn there’s no talking down to them – they are people, after all, just people with less experience. Your daughter sounds like just the kind of kid I want to write for!

    • Yes, they are people…but, too often, adults can forget that, forget how serious some things were to them when they were kids, or how they felt when they were bossed around or talked down to..

      Maybe it’s good that I remember it so vividly.

      In some areas, like Minecraft, my kids have far and away more experience than I do. Minecraft makes me dizzy, but they create worlds that I am stupefied by the complexity of…

      And you might be just the type of writer she wants to read, too! If I remember correctly, you have a fox book, and predators are among her many interests (bonus points awarded to those who are also venomous!).

      • I do have a fox book – well remembered! I haven’t written about venomous animals yet, but I’ll take it under advisement. 🙂

        Isn’t it weird how quickly adults forget what being a kid was really like?

        • And now we have your fox book too! I haven’t told her it’s on her Kindle yet, because sometimes it’s fun to discover things on your own.

          I remember back to my crib; my husband remembers very little of his childhood. I find it very weird, indeed, to think of not remembering so many moments of my life.

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