Through the Eyes of a ChildBy Alexandra Vaillancourt @ 7:00 AM April 20, 2012
Dateline Boston — Last week I spent the afternoon with one of my preschool boys, a five-year-old named Liam. Liam’s family doesn’t take the subway very often, so I thought it would be fun to take him on a train ride to get ice cream. My plan was that we’d take not just one, but two trains – the green line trolley that starts above ground but then goes underground, and then the red line subway that mostly goes underground.
I showed Liam the map of the subway. We looked at all the different colored lines there were—green (where school and my house were), red (where we were going), orange (where his house was), blue (where the airport and aquarium were), and purple (where the double-decker trains to far away were).
We noticed the signals in the tunnels, and I explained that we were going slow because there was a train in front of ours. After hearing the recorded announcement about which side the doors would open on, left or right, Liam asked which side was which. At each stop I would point to my left or my right.
When we switched from the green line to the red line, I told him we would go outside on the train and see water. He asked which side the water would be on. I was excited to tell him it would be on both sides; we’d be going over the Charles River. I asked him if he had ever been on the subway when it went over the Charles River before. He said no, but he thought he had been over it in his car.
We got to Harvard station in Cambridge, and Liam noticed that the station was all red (like the red line). As we walked down the big ramp towards the exit, he wanted to know what the other ramp was for. I told him we’d be going down that ramp on our way back.
I asked Liam if he had ever heard of a school called Harvard. He hadn’t. We saw a guy playing a really cool instrument, and stopped to listen for a minute. The instrument looked like a keyboard, but the man held it as if it were a guitar.
We got our ice cream, (which, as the most ordinary activity of our day, was uneventful) and headed back to the subway. I told Liam that we could listen to that funky music again. Liam said, “Why is it funky?” I explained that that meant it was good to dance to and had a good beat. When we got back to the place where the musician had been, he was gone. Oh, well.
We went down the ramp to catch the subway. There was the musician! We talked to him for a minute and found out that the name of his instrument was a keytar; combination keyboard and guitar. Our train came and we boarded, a little wiser about a new instrument.
Back at my house, I put the TV on for Liam while I made dinner. Liam’s family doesn’t watch TV that much. He kept shouting at me from the living room—“Alex, Curious George isn’t on the TV anymore! Now it’s basketball! Now it’s soccer! Oh, Curious George is on again.” I had to say, “All those fast parts? That’s a commercial.” Amazing to see a commercial through the eyes of someone who hadn’t really seen one in detail before.
As a matter of fact, it was amazing to look at the whole world through the eyes of a five-year-old. Subways are cool! The world is full of colors! Why is this like this, and that like that? What are those fast moving pictures?
Just for a day, or even an hour, stop and see things from a kid’s point of view—all those things we take for granted become new and fascinating if you just take the time. Stop and smell the roses. Who knows? Maybe you’ll see a cool bug while you’re doing it!
Ms. Campbell may be contacted at email@example.com