Out of the mouths of babes

By Helen Row Toews

February 23, 2017 12:00 AM

As my bus rumbled down the road last week, on Valentine’s Day, I overheard an exchange between two of the students seated behind me.
I often catch enlightening snippets of conversation from my vantage point behind the wheel.
This one brought a laugh to my lips at the time, but afterwards I got thinking how truly wise these words actually were.
I believe the conversation might be cute for us all to hear, but encouraging too.
Sometimes little children really can lead the way.
It was an exciting day for the young ones, and spirits were high.
A number of them had clambered eagerly onboard, then paused to thrust out slightly crumpled Valentine cards for me as well.
I even received heart-shaped Jell-O jigglers—eat your hearts out people!
Gleaming eyes eagerly awaited my response, and I was careful not to let them down.
Tiny faces beamed with pleasure as they took their seats and we roared off. Quite a few youngsters, ages five and six, ride with me each day.
They sit in the front seats where pint-size winter boots swish back and forth while they weigh in loudly on a variety of sometimes bizarre subjects.
At one of my stops a family of three race one another to the wide, swinging door and pile up the steps.
One of them is an older boy, Carson, who always seats himself among these kids until we reach the home of his friend.
This never fails to create a hum of excitement.
Although he likely wouldn’t appreciate this descriptor, Carson is a sweetheart.
He has a kind and caring heart; always inquiring into the health and happiness of these small ones.
He asks pertinent questions with the utmost seriousness, then patiently listens to their garbled answers, nodding his head with understanding or voicing appropriate shock and interest over their wild stories.
He also loves a good laugh.
Carson and I often share a giggle over some funny situation or other.
On this particular day, the little girls were all a-flutter as they clutched their Valentines and chattered busily of the upcoming festivities at school.
“Do you have all your Valentine’s ready to give away Carston?” a bright, squeaky voice asked from behind him, mispronouncing his name.
She peeked around the seat to deliver this very important question and smiled engagingly, despite the lack of several front teeth.
He turned towards the upturned faces, all anxiously waiting for his reply and answered gravely, “No, I don’t have Valentines for anyone.”
The eyes around him slowly grew big as saucers with disbelief as he continued: “I’m 12 now. Don’t ya think I’m a bit old for that?”
The resulting silence was palpable.
They sat, rigid in their seats, aghast at this dreadful revelation.
Suddenly, the same tiny girl leapt to her feet, indignation bringing a rosy flush to her cheeks.
Chestnut curls bounced, eyes flashed as she shot back, “You’re never too old to love people!”
Chuckling, I put the bus in gear and pulled out the driveway mulling over her words.
How true this simple phrase was, and is.
Transpose the word “old” for a multitude of others and it works just as well.
We should never be too rich or poor, too tired, busy or distracted to love people.
Showing love for family, friends or our fellow man can be expressed in many ways apart from sentimental cards, and should never be limited to one day a year—or to the young.
What stronger force exists in this world?
What one is more essential to our very survival?
Troubled times of every sort have been with us since the beginning of time, but love never fails.
Out of the mouths of babes….

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