Monday, July 05, 2010

Wise Beyond Her (Almost Eight) Years

Saturday morning, I was in the children's section of Half Price Books trying to track down some out of print titles for my nephew's homeschool lesson plans. Fairly deep in concentration between the emailed list of books on my Blackberry and the not exactly alphabetized by author bookshelves, a little girl's face peered up at me and said, "hello," breaking into my vision and attention.

"Hi," I replied.

"Tomorrow is my birthday," she said.

"Oh, cool. Happy Birthday. How old will you be?"

"I'll be eight," she said with a certain amount of pride.

"Are you going to see fireworks tomorrow night?" I asked.

"No. We're going to the bowling alley for two hours with my sister and one of my friends."

"That sounds fun. Have a good time." She kept staring at me. I figured I should say something else. "One of my grownup friends has a birthday on the fourth of July too. When she was a little girl, she thought the fireworks were for her birthday. You know, before she learned about Independence Day on the fourth of July."

The little girl was unimpressed with this tidbit. "Do you have any children?" she asked.

"I have eight nieces and nephews, but I don't have any children of my own. I'm looking for some books for one of my nephews right now."

"Nephew... is that a boy or a girl?" she asked.

"A boy," I said.

"I go to Brentwood Elementary School. I had to change schools because I got into trouble, and the old school wasn't nice to my parents."

"Oh. I had to change schools a few times when I was a kid because my family moved to different places," I said.

"Did you like that?" she asked.

Honestly, I hated it every single time, but I fibbed a little in my response. "Sometimes I was excited to move to a new school and start over, but sometimes I didn't like it."

She thought for a second and said, "That must have been hard for you to make friends and then have to leave. Maybe sad."

Oh, little one, it made me so sad each and every time. I nodded at her. Then she reached down to a low bookshelf and plucked out a prize. "I have this book. I like it. Maybe your nephew would like it." She smiled up at me as she displayed the cover for Walter the Farting Dog.

I smiled, and fought the urge to pet the little girl's head.