A Magician in Our Midst

By: pbcmedia

Oct 03 2008

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: 1, anxiety, Books, CHILDREN, Creativity, Humor, MAGIC, Personal, Photography, Random


Focal Length:100mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 10D

I was standing in a line to check out books at my local library.  They had a “Banned Books” display to the left and I was trying to read the titles.

I was next in line in back of a mother and teenage daughter with a four year boy sandwiched between them like a piece of ham.

I was thinking my big thoughts about banned books that are too small to fit in this blog when the little dark haired boy turned around and lay THE stare on me.  You know it, I’m sure.  It’s the look only a child can give you.  Simply checking you out as only a pair of 4 year old eyes can do.  No social aversion to staring at all.  Just eye lock pure and simple.

I was looking particularly mad scientist.  My white hair all poofy but not from Hair Spray, just general wildness of curl and falling and rising around my head rather than appearing to be rooted there.  I had my steel gray rain coat with deep pockets and a variety of things peeping out from the pockets, along with a deeper gray long scarf wrapped around my neck at an odd length, like a hangman’s noose.

He stared.  I stared.  But, I had to crack a little smile.  He noticed, but not with a facial expression, just his eyes–they seemed to dance a little.  He extended his hand, opened his palm, and revealed a blue rubber ball thingy with ridges in it.  I looked at it, then at him to see if he was offering it to me, but realized he just was showing it to me with pride.  In silence, I expressed through my facial expressions, “Ah, you have a very special blue round thingy.  I only have books in my hands.”

He seemed happy with my silent response and turned his back to me.

I looked back to the Banned Books display.  We have a new Library director and I think she is making a statement.  I like her eloquence so far.   As I was deciding which banned book I was going to run and get before it was my turn at the desk, (A young adult novel, “The Giver” by Lois Lowry) I heard what I can only remember to be a clicking clucking noise.  You know how you clench your teeth and then expel somehow (I’ve just done it and it is impossible to break down) a sound like the clicking clucking warbler birdsong?  (Pathetic description, Pat.  Pathetic.)

Anyway, I turned back to the desk and he was again facing me with his hand outstretched with the blue ball with ridges that had miraculously become some sort of space creature or gnome of some sort.  I did my Marcel Marceau best look of surprise with no words, “Mon Dieu!  A blue space creatury gnome from that round thingy!  You are a magician.”

He melted with pride and contentment and smiled, a sly, quiet it’s no big deal I do it all the time smile.

Yes, dear little man.

You are a magician on a day, in a week, in a time when the world needs a little magic.

©Pat Coakley


10 comments on “A Magician in Our Midst”

  1. You get a gold star for a successful encounter! (and another one for a wonderful post!).

    It can be so tricky talking to kids without reverting to kid-talk or misinterpreting what they mean, which leads to losing their respect and trust at once. While I have no problems talking to adults in English, I find it hard to talk to kids in a language that’s not my other’s tongue – it just feels awkward and artificial to me. Maybe I should go for your facial expression language – seems to be a great solution.

  2. Um, I meant my mother’s tongue.

  3. The Giver is a great book! It was actually required reading in my eldest’s 6th or 7th grade English class.
    This is beautiful! I spend a LOT of time volunteering in school with kids ranging from kindergarteners to 5th graders, and I always find that kids ALWAYS respond better and behave better when treated with respect and kindness. If you want good responses from children it is ALWAYS better to be positive and to NOT act like they are below being worthy to speak to with anything but disdain.

  4. What a beautifully written encounter :) I usually do not care for children but I too had a positive interaction with one today so I could picture the child I met doing this. He was a chubby little boy throwing spaghetti on himself & the floor. (it wasn’t my table to clean up, so I cared not about the mess:) ) He performed no magic other than offering a four toothed smile :)

  5. Nava, I’ve had my share of trying to capture a child’s attention by the equivalent of “Stupid Pet Tricks” and have learned less is more the hard way! What is your mother tongue? I think that is so interesting about difficulties with communicating kids in other than your mother tongue. That communication with little ones is perhaps hardwired into one’s own childhood. I am going to think about that!

    Arynsmom, greetings and thanks. I thought you two might have read this book!! I loved the idea of having a “banned book” display! They put yellow cautionary tape around the table, just like on a construction roadside project or construction project! I think it may be a national library display since there is an official book and everything. It would be interesting to find out how many libraries in the country chose NOT to participate. Maybe that info shall be for another post! Blogging material is everywhere you look!

    HI, breathlessmini..thanks for visiting! Yes, those four toothed smiles can get you every time, particularly when its not YOUR table! I’ve found myself thinking about “absence”, our assignment, these past few days and really liking this challenge…no photographic ideas yet, but this is where the concept of deadline is genius, isn’t it? It moves idea to reality.

  6. In very simple terms, I’d love to know what that blue round thingy was. You’ve just given me a project by accident! I’m going to check it out. (You did know I have a big case of arrested development when it comes to toys, didn’t you?) I think I’d also like to read The Giver now. I haven’t heard of it before, but it sounds like it’s worth the time. As for banned books, how fascinating! I get so mad about that sort of thing. How can we be in a democracy if book banning is/ was once possible?

  7. What worlds can be seen in these luminous young eyes- what a mini-siren, a lure of pure. Don’t we all need to look at some eager innocent eyes that don’t wink atcha’!!

    Love how you tie in so many current topics under a banner photograph and your mindful meanderings that under someone elses’ description would not be funny and insightful as you are.

  8. Pat, to your question: my native language is Hebrew. Yeah, I know, everyone who’s ever tried to learn it tells me how hard it is, but for me, well, it’s the easiest language on earth, naturally.

  9. This story warmed my heart and brought one of the biggest smiles to my face. So many do not see these little moments in time for what they are nor do they take the time to humour a little human. Beautiful!

  10. […] their grasp Forgiveness, Compassion, Empathy… humanity, we can learn a lot from children if we stopped to look into their eyes and see what they see.  Sometimes all it takes is taking the time to stand in the others shoes and try to […]

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