Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Basking in the Wisdom of Little Kids

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Basking in the Wisdom of Little Kids

Article excerpt

The perception of the world is that adults teach children. So they do, but this does not account for the reverse phenomenon: That often children are the ones to teach adults.

I write as one lately instructed by smaller persons and, as Dr. Seuss wrote in one of his more memorable lines, a person's a person no matter how small. To which I might add, wisdom is wisdom even if delivered at knee level in a tiny voice.

I went back to Australia for my life lesson, the country where I spent my childhood and where my adult daughter, Allison, born in Pittsburgh, is living my life in reverse.

Allison's two daughters, Tillie and Lucy, are now 4 and 2. They are indeed small but perfectly proportioned, which is more than you can say for some people -for example, me.

The following are some of the universal truths the children revealed to me over two weeks this month.

Actually, the first truth is only indirectly related to the kids. They are the flames, the grandparents are the moths irresistibly drawn to them. Moths at least have the good sense not to cross vast oceans for warmth, but grandparents do crazy things.

The flight to Australia is very long. It goes for hours and hours. It's hard to say how many hours exactly because clocks melt in Salvador Dali fashion in the aeronautic time capsule. You can recognize the grandparents among the passengers; they get on the plane looking old and get off looking like Methuselah.

It may be a different experience in the first-class or business cabins, but I wouldn't know about that. I suppose it is champagne and back rubs up there, but in steerage it is people mooing in their cramped stalls. I confess I mooed a bit - "When is it ever going to end" and "I am getting too old for this." Especially the last.

To relieve boredom and other urges, the older passengers must go to the lavatories every so often and then some more after that. The facilities are always occupied, as a sign helpfully tells the whole plane. What on earth do people do in there for so long? My theory is that Salvador Dali is painting a mural.

But at last, just when it seems that it has run out of globe, the plane touches down in Sydney, and soon all is forgotten. …

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