Wednesday, December 17, 2014

That Is Enough

Someone, perhaps days ago, put toy dinosaurs and an log into a wagon. Then it rained. What do you do when you find toy dinosaurs and a log in a wagon half full of water? Play, of course.

He didn't speak about what he was doing, but by his actions, I'm guessing there was a story in his head, one that involved these great prehistoric creatures splashing about in water up to their chests.

But, you know, I could well be wrong because I didn't ask, and even if I had, I would have changed the moment. The act of my asking a question would draw his attention away from his inquiry and focus it upon my own preconceived bias about what goes on in a two-year-old's head when he finds dinosaurs, a log, and water in a wagon. If nothing else, my questions would yank him from this moment, his process, just as it would had I instead simply told him what I saw him doing, narrating how he was holding dinosaurs, splashing, making waves. Again, anything I might say would be like pointing, shouting, "Look over there!" an intrusion that, for all I know, would rob this child and possibly all of mankind of an insight or discovery beyond anything our lesser brains, those not engaged in playing with toy dinosaurs, a log, and water, could ever conjure according to our own devices. 

This is the risk we take whenever we test a child. It is the risk we take each time we direct them, however subtly.

Of course, his thoughts are probably nothing so groundbreaking, but I guarantee it when I open my mouth and steer him to the places I've already been. I don't need to know what's going on inside a boy's head when he plays with dinosaurs and a log in a wagon half full of water: I don't need to tell him how to do it. What I do know is that what he is doing is personally significant, because he has judged it worthy of taking these five precious minutes to engage, freely, without encouragement, coercion or my adult prattle.

That is enough.

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