Friday, September 18, 2009

The Innocence of a Child

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I want to tell a story. I have a point, so please, bear with me.

When I was in my 2nd year of college, the Biology class went to Denver to the Museum of Natural History. The purpose was to watch Jane Goodall and her gorillas at the IMax Theater. We were there as early as possible in the morning to cruise thru the Museum at our leisure until 1 pm, when we were to meet at the door to the IMax and enter as a group.

At noon, two classmates and I made our way to the large entry hall, close by the locked door leading into the IMax. We were soon joined by another student, and then a couple more, and so on. The mood was easy, light and enjoyable. After about 12 other students had arrived, we noticed other people arriving for the show, as well. A small family of 3 caught my attention.

A mother and her two children came in the wide glass doors and made their way to the heavy wooden benches pushed up against the wall by the IMax entrance. Though they were clearly excited the children, a girl of about 3 and boy of about 5, were well behaved.

I knew they were waiting for someone to join them by the way the mother looked about, and soon another mother and her 7 year old daughter and 5 year old son hurried past our small groups of students and took a place along the wall. The children obviously knew each other and were soon playing along the heavy wooden benches.

Losing interest in the small group of strangers, I was taking part in a conversation with my two friends when I noticed a young couple from our group walk up to join us in the vicinity of the rest of us, but not quite part of us. I didn't know them personally, but I knew them to be an item around campus. They were young, part of a small group students who were allowed to attend college classes from their high school as part of their school curriculum. They were polite and gentle with each other, not the way I see many couples in public now-a-days. (by the way, this was in 2005). We said hello to each other and I again turned my attention to my friend's dialog.

It wasn't but a few minutes later that I noticed the 7 year old little girl had left the safety of her group and had wandered into mine. Of itself, that wasn't odd, but her body language and facial expression was something I would never ignore, being the people watcher that I am.

She moved toward the center of our multi-group of students as a large, wise, old cat stalking an equally wise, old mouse would do. I lost all contact with the conversation with my friends as I continued to watch this innocent little girl. It was not hard to see that she was intently focused on the young couple who stood just 4 feet from me. Her eyes never left them for a second as she slowly moved forward, placing each step carefully, with foresight and the deliberate strategy of a master hunter.

I looked from her to the young couple, and back to her. I tried to "see" what she was seeing. The young couple stood facing each other. They were talking in very low tones but because I was so close to them, I overheard them discussing whether or not they would have enough change to buy a Coke from a nearby machine. He put his hand in his pant pocket and came out with a few coins. She did the same and they stood with their hands out, palms up, each pushing the coins around and sharing them as if they were counting up a treasure. They never touched each other. They didn't even look up at each other for several minutes, but the whole time, they spoke in a respectful and gentle manner.

As I watched the couple, the young girl had moved to within a couple of feet of the couple. She began to move around them in a circle, all the while openly staring at them. She stopped a few times to lean over and peer up into their faces from different angles or she stretched up tall to see the coins as they exchanged palms. As she continued her rotation, the young couple never one time notice her (or me) watching them.

The little girl completed her round and stood, still facing and watching the couple. In the time it takes to breathe in and breathe out, I saw knowledge spread across the little girl's face. She had figured something out, she had made a connection to whatever it was that had drawn her to the couple in the first place. Immediately, the little girl's hand flew up to her mouth and her eyes became saucers, and then she smiled - broad and satisfied. She turned with a flip of her long golden hair and ran back to her mother a changed child. She shared her newly found insight with her mother and I wanted so badly to ask her about it.

I don't know what she saw, I couldn't tell what it was she realized, and I can't imagine what it would feel like to loose an innocence in an innocent way. I'm sure that's what happened to her. She had the chance of a lifetime to learn some aspect of a relationship the way we are all supposed to learn about them.

So my long and drawn out point is, I've used this experience to learn vicariously thru that little child. Still, my heart aches at the loss of my own innocence. Watching that innocent child made me realize what it is that was taken so brutally from me. I don't remember ever being innocent. I realized, that day at the Museum, how precious innocence is and the loss of it has forever altered me in ways I would never have chosen otherwise.
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9 comments:

Just Be Real said...

What a sweet touching story of realization for you Ivory! While reading the story I felt the girl was in a flowing white dress for some reason. Thank you for sharing. Blessings...

VICKI IN AZ said...

This is a moving story Ivory. Thank you for sharing your insight in a way that we can experience this with you.
I grieve with you for the loss of your precious innocence and for mine.
xoxo

Michael Finley said...

Perhaps you have it backwards, perhaps I do. I feel the opposite, that I will never lose my innocence. That I can see something and it is interesting. Not that I find it interesting. That I can be amazed by rain over and over again.

Perhaps it was your innocence that lead you to know what the most important thing going on at that point in time at the theater.

Our I may be all wrong.

sarah said...

interesting read. wish I knew what the child found out.

Ivory said...

JBR,
She wore a well-loved (worn) simple school-like dress. It was off white with short cap sleeves, a gathered waist, and a bit of light green cotton lace at the collar and around the hem.

Vicki,
You are welcome. Thanks for understanding and seeing the "girl" behind the story.

Michael,
Oh my! I've never looked at it this way! I have had people tell me my whole life that I am child-like in naivete and sometimes seem innocent - I just don't see it. That is a beautiful way to comprehend that, tho and from now on, that's the way I will remember it. Maybe I noticed her in the first place because we share an innocence. I've often heard that we all hate in others what we hate about ourselves - Maybe we make connections with others because we have the same qualities. Thank you so much!

Sarah,
I have written this in College papers (Sociology and Psychology classes). I specially went to one of the University profs just to tell him this and ask if he might have any idea what she might have understood, based on her age, what she was watching, and the situation. He is head of one of the Psych departments and he took a couple of days to think about it and he asked another prof, but they couldn't come up with anything concrete. He said he would have to have known the little girl before being able to find a plausible answer. I will never forget it, it was serene, yet explosive; quiet, yet shouting of understanding. Wonderful.

Saving Grace said...

yeah...I don't remember either....

Ivory said...

Grace,
That sucks! We all have the right to remember something that is so intimate and personal!

Paul from Mind Parts said...

What a great story. I tend to see both sides. I see the side of losing our innocence, but I see that somehow some of that was protected. Thank you so much.

Ivory said...

Paul,

You are so welcome, I'm glad this touched a part of you.