I love the precious small moments that are easy to miss in life. Today I do not want to miss anything about 10 year olds. I bet you were pretty special when you were 10 and I hope you had an adult that noticed.
I read a story about a man who is a professional diver now. He can recall the first time he went underwater when he was two. Imagine a 2 year old boy going swimming for the first time and leaving the water with awareness that he loved it. At age 10 he was wandering about a yard sale when he saw a piece of diving equipment. He held his breath when he saw the old regulator on the ground under a table. He counted up what little money he had and shyly made his small offer. The seller said yes. It did not even work and would have maybe gone in the trash, but this boy used all his savings to buy it and was excited to bring it home. Over days he took it apart and figured it out and somehow fixed it. Managed to get himself time underwater with it, this boy. He felt energized by the world of water when he was only 2 and took his own step toward it when he was only 10. All he needed was to be 10 years old, have an idea, and have some adult that said yes.
In this same magazine there was a story of a college graduate who has gone back to Maine and is a lobsterman. I did not pay so much attention to his current situation, although I send him all my best wishes for success and happiness. I loved this part:
The summer he was 10 his neighbors still had a small overturned, paint chipped boat in their yard that never moved from the concrete blocks it was set on. His mother had a garden. One day he asked his mother if he could have the five red tomatoes he had picked that morning. She said yes. He walked to the neighbors and asked if he could buy the boat in the yard. He said he did not have any money but he would trade them five tomatoes for it. I am sure our boy gazed up at the adult with seriousness. I have reverence for the adult that looked down into that boy face, then gazed out at the lonely boat on the cinderblocks, and then looked back down and said yes. I hope the tomatoes tasted as sweet as that “yes” felt to our boy.
Our boy got the boat home, painted it over the next few days, and got it out on the water. When his boat tasted water again for the first time it even had a proper name painted on the back, “Five Tomatoes”. Later that summer our boy fashioned a lobster trap from old trap parts. He started his lobster business. All he needed was to be 10 years old, have an idea, and have some adults that said yes.
Big dreams and depth of spirit come in little people with only 10 years of experience; especially when adults around them are paying attention.
The little 10-year-old girl lay like Sleeping Beauty in the bed. Only this was a Sleeping Beauty who was supported by a breathing tube and monitors and IV machines dispensing fluids. She was brain dead.
Some of her friends from school came in with their parents. Friends were allowed to visit because Beauty’s mother had lost someone dear to her when she was a little girl and still carried emptiness that, as a child, she was not allowed to see her friend to say good-bye. Beauty’s mom trusted that 10-year-old children would know if they could emotionally handle their own grief.
A little girl friend arrived, wearing brightly patterned polar fleece. Unsure and scared at the last minute, she clung to her mother in the hallway. Her mother asked her again if she wanted to see her friend, with a reminder that she did not have to. Mother soothed her by whispering there was no injury to Beauty’s face. She just has a tube like a straw in her mouth for breathing. The girl wanted to come in and even though she was 10 she reached up to be carried. 10 year olds are not so grown up that they are embarrassed to ask for support when they need it. Her mother did not seem much bigger than her daughter; and yet she easily carried her daughter in, the daughters arms wrapped around her neck, her wiry legs wrapped around the mother’s waist. They entered cheek to cheek.
Cheek to cheek they looked down on their sleeping beauty. Holy moments passed. At some point mother said in hushed tones, “Once you are a princess, you are always a princess.” Time stood still. Then in hushed tones just like her mother, the daughter whispered, “Once you are a princess, you are always a princess. “ Their tears ran together.
He was thin with brown hair, a few freckles and intense eyes. The boy entered with his mom to say good-bye. He stood at the bed. His mom whispered to the nurse, “They have been close friends since they were very little.”
I was so far in the background, but I think he loved her. He said such lovely words. Where did this boy learn these words? How did he know how to “be” so beautiful at such a time? I think he said, “I will see you again some day.” I think he said, “I always loved having you as a friend.” I think he said, “I will miss you.”
But I know what his parting words to her were, in his little voice that broke with sorrow. “Farewell…. Farewell.”
How did he know “farewell”? It was a word I had not thought much about, ever. Not commonly used and so absolutely beautiful coming from this boys’ heart. Farewell.
Pay attention to the direction children lean in and the depth of their spirit. Let them tell you what they can handle and what they want to do. Let them make decisions for themselves, even at 10.
And always, always, always, be the adult that says yes.