Tales From a 4-Year Old

My 4-year old at Dunkins

I don’t usually share these type of mundane daily anecdotes, but I had a nice experience with my 4-year old this morning at breakfast, and I felt the need to share. It’s meant as much for me, in order to preserve the memory. It was like a scene from a play or movie. I just may use it some day. I couldn’t have written a better scene if I tried.

We were sitting there about to eat our breakfast when a much older gentleman, maybe late-60’s or early 70’s sits down next to us. He was a biker, and was covered in tattoos, most of them prison ink, including some AB ink (the rest of you can look it up.)

My daughter was staring at him, as she has probably never seen someone so covered in tattoos up close. I could tell she was naturally curious, and I urged her to pay attention to her breakfast and eat. Her curiosity won out though, and she suddenly said to the man, “Why do you have so many drawings on your skin?” I asked her to be polite and eat, and then apologized to the man. He smiled and chuckled and responded to her saying,

“I made some bad choices when I was young.”

My daughter kept staring at him for a moment, and then responded,

“You didn’t listen to your mommy and daddy?”

The man smiled again, and said to her, “No, I didn’t. And that was the biggest mistake I ever made. Listen to your parents; they know what they’re talking about.”

My daughter seemed to be listening and taking in what she could. She responded to the man by saying,

“I love my mommy and daddy, and they love me.”

My heart melted. The old man smiled and said,

“ Kid, you’re the luckiest little girl on earth.”

He then gave me a wink, collected his stuff, and walked out.

It was a short but beautiful moment. To my daughter, he was just a guy who had something that made her curious. As all 4 year olds do, she said exactly what was on her mind. Most people might not interact with a man like that. They might avoid a conversation, or even eye contact. When my daughter asked him an innocent question about his tattoos, it open the most honest and human moment I have witnessed in a long time.

As I sit here typing, I’m thinking about that moment. About how it was a lesson for my daughter. About how it was a lesson for the old man, and even me as an observer. It’s the simple things in life, and perspective is an amazing thing. To this man who had lived a hard, and possibly sad life, the encounter made him smile at the innocence of youth, and perhaps made him briefly happy that there is simple beauty in this world.

To my 4-year old daughter, she was just happy talking to someone new, someone who made her curious. She was sharing what was important to her, in her 4-year old world. The innocence and honesty of her words made the old man and myself smile because it brought us into her world, if only for a moment.

There’s such a simple beauty in that. Sometimes happiness can be found in those simple things.

As well as a ham, egg and cheese wrap.

-Z

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