So for the past few weeks I’ve been teaching little kids swim lessons.  I did it last year because they needed an extra hand and even though it’s sometimes a pain to make my way back over to work after being there all morning, it’s sort of pretty fun sometimes.  I’ve learned kids are a lot more intuitive than many think.  They’re also really, really interesting to listen to.  I think one of the greatest skills J.D. Salinger had and utilized in a lot of his stories is the art of portraying the confusion and need for understanding all children exhibit at some point in their lives.  One of the best cases I can pull from memory is Lionel’s character from “Down at the Dinghy” from Nine Stories by Salinger.  Lionel’s character is cautious and confused, but yet very certain and adamant that he has been wronged directly even though he hasn’t (read the story to find out what I’m edging on).  Kids also turn on a dime.  They can be laughing and giggling away and then turn to slowly evolving tears at the slightest offense.  They have so much heart and wear it on their sleeves at all times.

On the first day of swim lessons I’m pretty sure I scared one of the little boys I teach.  I imagine that, by chance, I might look like the boogie man if he hadn’t eaten in a month to some children.  His father took him into the locker room and when he came back out, still sniffling and rubbing his nose on the back of his tiny forearm, he walked over with me to sit down and take off his shoes.  He had crocs on and even though I, myself, see no reason they exist commented on them, ‘These are pretty cool crocs you have’ – an effort to shake any boogie man correlations loose.   He looked up and answered.

“Yea.  I like them.”  He sat for a moment and watched as I took off his shoes and put them under a chair.  When I stood to walk over to the steps to get into the pool he arched his head back and whispered to me.  “Wanna know something?”  I smiled casually and bent down to listen – I imagine as a kid I would have liked it if a grown up had bent down to my level when I whispered.  He leaned forward to whisper in my ear.  “They came in a box,” he said and leaned back in the chair as I nodded.

What do you say to something like that?  Well, all I could come back to answer my new found friend was ‘Wow!  That’s awesome.  More things should come in boxes.’

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