Kids Haven’t Had the “Poetry Choked out of Them” Yet

I miss having little kids.  And I’m thoroughly enjoying not having little kids.  And I want a bit of empty nest before I have grandchildren.

That said, I’m one of those people who always squats down to talk to little kids.  There is nothing more perfect in the world than a two- or three-year-old with incipient language and an honest perspective.

Kids have time to notice things and to be playful when the grown-ups who drag them around don’t.  I have a confession.  I make faces at kids all the time, and then hide behind my hands and peek out.  And they love it.  And their mothers almost never notice.  Because they are too busy for such nonsense.

I love being out in public and catching the eye of a little kid, and smiling or making a funny face or something, and having them respond.  They’ll keep it going a long time, until they disappear wistfully out of sight, still looking backwards as they try to walk.

There was an incredible article in the Washington Post about violinist Joshua Bell playing his 3.5 million dollar 1713 Stradivarius violin in the subway in DC, and how because of the context, people generally ignored him. Except kids.

Who seemed to know instinctively that this was something to stop for, something incredible.  Gene Weingarten, author of the piece, Pearls before Breakfast, wrote:

“The poet Billy Collins once laughingly observed that all babies are born with a knowledge of poetry, because the lub-dub of the mother’s heart is in iambic meter. Then, Collins said, life slowly starts to choke the poetry out of us. It may be true with music, too.

“There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.”

Read the article here:

And we could all learn something from little kids.  Slow down and you might see something amazing.

~ by Cary on February 19, 2009.

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