I love children. Their innocence keeps me grounded in so many ways and reminds me constantly that the way we’ve come to treat each other so poorly, is as a direct result of FEAR. Since the very day I touched down in Mexico, children have stared at me with intense curiosity, patiently waiting for my response. As soon as I start to break open the smile, their faces light up and we proceed to exchange waves, play peek-a-boo games, and just any loving childish interaction I can think of. Sometimes the parents join in, sometimes they don’t.
The Curiosity of Adults
A few weeks ago during the Dia de Muertos festivities (celebrated at the same time as Halloween), I was standing on a hill with a friend, partaking in good conversation (my favourite recreational activity). Our particular location was at the corner of the road and from our vantage point, about 100 M in the distance, we could see a lovely blue home with home with 3 kids running in the street and 2 older women overseeing the joyful laughter and screams. As we spoke and admired the kids, we noticed that the older women ( whom I assumed to be la Abuela y la Madre) staring at us. Now, staring is something I have been FORCED to adjust to while living in Mexico. I’ve been told that they can be very shy people so maybe that’s the best way they can express their curiosity. The staring continues for a slow 5 minutes. As in, these women did not shift their gaze from us as they spoke to each other but showed no intent to interact with us. Of course, we were amused but slightly befuddled. So naturally, we start talking about them and at this point, I am truly tempted to go be Annissa and talk to them because they clearly see something that piques their interest. I resisted.
Not long after, all the kids gathered around the women and began looking at us as well. Huh? What’s going on here? Am I a part of some show I didn’t know was being filmed? What was I truly to think at that moment? And then without warning, it happened….
She waved at us.
No not la Abuela or la Madre, but one of the beautiful children. She had long, bone straight black hair in a fish plait and a smile I’m sure I could see from space. She was beautiful and her curiosity, seemingly getting the best of her, held my interest. Immediately reprimanded by la Abuela (think of the ‘hush your mouth’ hand wave from your granny), she stopped waving at once.
Honestly, I was very sad to see that. As soon as my mind wanted to go off on WHY we insist on teaching our children to let FEAR of the unknown rule their interactions with people, we noted that she kept looking at us with, almost with a sense of intent and a cheeky smile. As soon as I wanted to believe that this little’s girls innocence was just stolen from her, she laid those concerns to rest with just one smile and I think I fell in love with children all over again.
Simply amazed, we spoke at length on her bravery and refusal to be influenced in ways that didn’t mesh with her core values despite how different it may be from what she knows to be normal behaviour. We were so proud for her and prayed for that her inner light will always shine through.
SHE BREAKS AWAY
Shortly after, we see a man leave the house and start to walk toward us. Our little friend has also broken away from home base and runs towards him, holds his hand and follows. We’re in shock. What’s happening? Thinking they were headed our way, he stopped at a fruit tree about 50M away and listened to la Abuela give out instructions on the particular fruit she wanted. As we watch on, a younger gentleman covered in construction site garb is walking past us, heavy laden with work tools and we share a friendly smile. Suddenly, this curious angel leaves the elder gentleman’s side and confidently walks up to us and sticks her hand out… ” Hola, me llamo Allison!, Como te llamas?”. WE WERE SHOOK! As we responded we noticed that the man from work has stopped to observe the exchange… “Mi hija,” he says with a proud smile.
Then it clicked and what a beautiful moment it was. Allison saw her dad coming around the corner and decided that she wasn’t gonna let this opportunity past her. We found out that she’s nine, loves mathematics and she’s really bright. Man, what a kid! I’ll never forget her. She encouraged me that day, and I went to bed with renewed hope for our children. On days I forget who I am, I’ll remember Allison. Thank you, sweet girl!