My face was buried in a library book as I rode the bus home, but the little girl behind me would not sit still. I guessed she might be about six years old.
She bounced from one corner of her seat to the other. When she leaned over too far and accidentally pushed my back with her elbow, her mother chided her in a firm whisper.
“Don’t lean. It’s rude to lean over people.”
“I wasn’t leaning,” insisted the child.
“No, you were leaning.”
“I was only looking. I didn’t mean to lean.”
I was faintly amused, and rather impressed by the pair: by the mother who dispensed equal measures of gentleness and discipline, and by the youngster who defended herself without the least hint of precociousness.
After the briefest of pauses she began enthusing to her ever-patient mother about the virtues of bicycles, sheep-shaped clouds and sesame seeds- the latter being a new discovery.
“What are sesame seeds?” she asked warily as her mother produced some curious looking crackers; and shortly afterward the little girl proclaimed sesame seeds to be her favourite seed in the whole world, better, even, than apple seeds.
I was thoroughly appreciating, in what I hoped was a suitably subtle manner, the litany of lovely things, when the little girl sighed loudly.
“Mommy, I don’t like it when you do magic. Magic can go out of control.”
I wanted very much to turn around but it is just as rude to stare as it is to lean, and so I remained fixed in my seat, mesmerized, walloped by the strange and sudden curve in the conversation.
I believe this: that the woman was a magician. She was equipped, not with a ready supply of rabbits and hats and white doves and rainbow handkerchiefs, but with an endless capacity for sharing the wonders of the world- faces in clouds, seeds in crackers- with a curious daughter.
I believe that we are all magicians who can enthrall children, earn their trust and encourage them to seek out the little, the mundane and the invisible.