Watching discoveries

On Saturday it is almost warm and she woke up begging to go, wearing her jacket to the door and sobbing big, fat tears when I tell her no and so by 9:30 I give up.

We pack her into the old jogging stroller and the dog is whining and leaping by the door so we take him too. The wind is chilly but she waves to every car we pass and sings to every bird and talks about “Crocker,” which is what she calls the dog.

We get to the library just minutes after it opens. She wants to walk down the stairs herself, pausing to look at a brown, wooden hippopotamus and two carved giraffes she calls deer. She seems to remember where we are; we visit the basement children’s area of the library nearly once a week and she thinks other children will be here.

Today, though, we only came to play with the wooden train track on the table around the corner. She calls the trains cars and wants to push them on the floor, not the track, when an older boy comes to use the computers near us. He looks to be around 7, maybe 8 – too old, he thinks, for trains.

She thinks the world was made to be her playmate and so she starts showing him each piece, one by one. “Boy,” she tells me. Then, pointing to me but looking at him, “Mama.” Introductions have been made.

His mother comes up and remembers how much he used to love those trains, playing as long as she was willing to stay. He’s still waiting for his computer to boot up but he’s watching her discover the train set and his fingers are itching, you can tell.

“Look,” he tells her, showing her the train with the shark inside. He pushes the buttons on the station house that makes a train whistle sound and she tries, too. He’s off the cushioned stool now, kneeling at the table, finding each piece he remembers so well.

Then, an aside to his mother: “I turned off the computer.”

Helping her discover the games he’d loved so much was more fun than anything on the screen.

They left not long after but she kept playing with the pieces he’d shown her, pushing the train whistle button over and over again: a new trick she was so proud to have learned.

And it made me smile. Because while I watched her discover the fun of a train set, I watched him discover the fun of showing someone else something you love.

All in five minutes in a library basement on an almost-warm Saturday morning.


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