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Little Children - cellophane
the story of an invisible girl
renniekins
renniekins
Little Children
I had just boarded the airport parking lot shuttle. I sat down, and saw a family sitting directly across from me. A man, a woman, and between them a tiny girl with huge eyes and thick eyelashes. She was sitting on the seat with her legs straight out in front of her, her feet just barely sticking out past the edge of the seat.

I smiled pleasantly at the parents, then said "Hi!" to the little girl. She grinned toothily at me, shrugging her shoulders and turning her head shyly to the side. Captivated, I was barely able to take my eyes off of her for the rest of the short ride to the airport.

She was probably four years old. She was holding a dollar bill, probably so that she could tip the shuttle driver. She was playing with it, talking to her parents, making silly noises, and just generally being a child. She was delightful.

She looked at the ceiling and asked, "What's that?" Her dad explained that it was a bar for people to hold onto when they are standing. I briefly pictured myself standing up, grabbing onto the bar, and demonstrating. Realizing it was too high for me to use properly, I pictured myself holding onto the bar and dangling from it, swinging lightly back and forth. I resisted.

She looked at the luggage rack. "What's that?" Her mom explained that it was for holding people's suitcases.

"A ladder," she said, and pointed. I looked, and the side of the rack, with its horizontal shelves and horizontal support beams, did indeed look like it would make a good ladder.

"Yes you're right that does look like a ladder," said her dad thoughtfully.

"It is a ladder," she insisted.

"Okay."

"Can we climb it?"

The ladder didn't actually go anywhere, and she was very small. I probably would have told her we could climb it, but we wouldn't get anywhere. There wasn't a door in the roof.

"That's not safe," her mom told her.

"No that's not safe with the bus moving," added her dad.

I was mentally wondering if this was a good enough response for her, when she found the obvious loophole. "Can we climb it when the bus stops?"

"No, because then we have to go find our airplane."

This seemed to satisfy her, and she leaned back on the seat with her knees up by her shoulders. The bus turned right, and she collapsed dramatically in the opposite direction against her mother's leg. She rested her head on her mother's thigh and relaxed, her little legs limp and twisted, and her mother stroked her hair. I watched with a jealous fascination. She was completely safe, surrounded by loving parents on either side, and trusted completely that they would take care of her.

I don't mentally remember being that small, but my body has a memory of it. That knowledge that all falls will be caught, that you can collapse and lean and look around and twist, and somebody big will hold you safe and comfortable. My body remembers it in water, that relaxed realization that you don't have to keep your own balance. You don't have to stay upright as you leap to catch a frisbee, or twist and twirl and fall. The water will catch you gently and keep you from harm.

Do you remember being so small? Do you remember being supported by giant hands, as you started your first ventures through the world? Sometimes I miss it, this faint memory that I don't really have. And I'm not even really that big. How strange to think, that every big person was once a tiny child. How puzzling it must feel, now and then, to be so far removed from that time.
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Comments
juliebata From: juliebata Date: September 10th, 2005 06:55 am (UTC) (Link)
At my brother's cookout this past Monday, there was a little blonde girl, the neighbor's kid, maybe three. She was outgoing, inquisitive, playful, and very well behaved. After they left, my mom said that I was just like her when I was that age. That was really surprising to hear, I don't remember being that way. I have vivid memories of being that small, but mostly I remember being shy. I do remember sitting on my grandpa's shoulders, he was maybe six feet tall, but it felt like I was on top of a skyscraper...
ellison From: ellison Date: September 10th, 2005 12:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
What a beautiful and thoughtful entry! I love this.

I do remember being small, parts of it anyway. I remember my older brothers swinging me, one of them holding my hands, the other holding my ankles, and then swinging me and flopping me onto the fluffy bed. We did this over and over, and I loved it. I remember my dad lifting me up onto his shoulders and being thrilled and scared at the same time. I remember his seemingly huge hands holding my legs, and my hands firmly grasping his seemingly large forehead (my hands were just tiny because I was so little), while he laughed and assured me I was okay. And I remember being able to cuddle up under my mom's arm as we watched t.v. together. Being a kid is a beautiful thing. Sometimes when people make me angry, I try to remember that everyone was once a little baby, one that I would have probably liked. Occasionally it even helps calm me down. :)
atdt1991 From: atdt1991 Date: September 10th, 2005 04:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
A rare experience for me - my mom was rather busy, and it was just the two of us. Once, my uncle came in from california, and he did the whole "lift to the ceiling" thing, and I was both entertained and freaked out. *s*

Yes, being 6'2, there is a severe difference between reality now and reality when I was short. Falling over, if I were to do so, just flat out, would be far more damaging now. :) Which is disappointing, because that sense of recklessness gets lost as you become an adult. It's like always wearing shoes - when I was a kid, I never wore shoes if I could help it, and now I wouldn't be without them, except in 'acceptable situations'.
jeffreyab From: jeffreyab Date: September 10th, 2005 04:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't remember being that small but I do find people smaller than me sometimes relax more when leaning against me.

Residual body memory maybe?

Perhaps that is why people like hugs.
nishar From: nishar Date: September 11th, 2005 12:24 am (UTC) (Link)
That is what I was thinking.
thinggtwoo From: thinggtwoo Date: September 11th, 2005 12:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Beautifully written - and good things for me, the mother of a four year old little girl, to keep in mind. :-)

HUGS, my dear.
jebra From: jebra Date: September 13th, 2005 01:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I remember situations and events from when I was small (okay ... smaller), but not me. I remember houses we lived in, certain events, but not what I looked like or, often, how I felt.


These days, though, I can't remember why I got up to go to the kitchen or where I set down my coffee mug.
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