I have a new little friend. His name is Simon. His mother is a professional cellist, while Simon is still an amateur. Every Tuesday morning I hang out with him so his mom can go to the music hall to practise.
Simon and I do all sorts of fun things together. Last Tuesday, for example, on what began as a rather dreary, chilly morning, the two of us headed for The Buttery (a nearby coffee shop) for treats. Simon had a mini chino – a small cup of steamed milk – and a very quickly demolished chocolate donut, while I happily sipped on a black Americano. As we whizzed back to his apartment (one does not linger over coffee with a two year old) – Simon on his “little blue bike” and me on my feet, stopping and then starting again, depending on whether “the light was red or blue” (not green) – the sun came out. So we stayed outside for another hour. We drove the schoolbus, reminding children to take their backpacks with them when they got off; we zoomed around on a fire engine and put out many fires; we planted a plethora of vegetables in the sandbox garden, filling our newly dug rows with beans, corn, tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes. “Would you like some carrots?” asks the tractor driver. “Yes, please.” “Okay. And now would you like some more carrots?” “No, I think I’d like some onions now.” “Okay, onions it is!” says the helpful unloader, who is all of two years old.
When it’s not warm and sunny outdoors, we stay inside and make trains cars out of Playdoh. Or we get down on the floor and race our separate Lego trains on the same track, averting at the last minute what looks to be inevitable disaster; we read books, books about octopuses and pirates and trains and “bigger diggers.” Simon knows a lot of the pages by heart. His energetic renderings are music to my ears.
A two year old with energy and cheerfulness and a huge natural capacity to learn and to love, Simon is a lovely reminder of how others help to shape little lives like his. His six year old brother, Abram, tells him all about his days at school and then engages him in a fun-filled, zesty game of indoor hockey, cheering loudly every time a “one-timer” slams into the net. Then the suddenly very tired brothers crash on the couch together with a book.
Simon’s parents read to him, play trains with him, teach him what words mean, remind him to use his manners, are generous with their hugs, exulting in his innocent eagerness. One of the things I like best about his parents is that they allow Simon to admit other adults into his life and encourage him to trust them, allowing community to happen. Because if they didn’t, I wouldn’t get to spend happy Tuesday mornings with Simon.