Big and I went downtown today to explore the extraordinary toddler section at the Central Library, only to find out that it, due to our increasingly minimalist public funding, the main library, like our local rinky-dink library, closes on Mondays.
Having paid the parking fee, we decided to spend a morning downtown, window shopping and enjoying the energy, sights and sounds of Nicollet Avenue. Big's vocabulary is beginning to burst (we counted 26 words last week and I'd bet he's already up to 40) and he could be heard atop my shoulders while, I could only surmise by the rocking of his body, pointing this way and that to "Bus!" and "Car" and "Guy!" etc. etc. We browsed books at the local Bunns and Noodle (see Allison Bechdel for her witty renaming of the book chain), and visited the Mary Tyler Moore statue, slowly meandering our way back to the car.
Pardon the trite observation, but there is absolutely nothing like a toddler to force you to stop and be present for the smallest, loveliest moments in life. And it's not just their innate joy in all-things-new that is contagious. It is also that their pace, so much slower compared to our own, allows for such a rich perspective, if you allow yourself to be taken up in it all, as opposed to fighting for your own agenda.
At one point we stopped by a man warming up to play his trumpet for the noon-hour pedestrians on their way to lunch. Big threw in a coupla bucks and we sat down to hear him play for a while. He was mesmerized by the sound and when the guy broke into that old Celtic song "Danny Boy" which I happen to sing to Big nearly every night (changing the words, usually to "[Big's first name] Boy") I am fairly sure I saw a hint of recognition in his eyes.
We had not requested the song, or even shared a word with this man, yet, somehow, he choose a song that Big and I share when we are extremely close -- those moments before sleep. While I am no longer surprised by that sort of connection that living beings have with one another--I believe that we truly feel one another at some deep level that is infinitely more powerful than our formal forms of communication--I was, nonetheless, moved deeply.
He played it a second time and we sat for the entire rendition, only a few feet away from our soloist, Big tucked under my arm, watching, me softly singing along in his ear.
And then we moved on, Big pointing out buses, police cars and our little tram, climbing and jumping off of planters, taking our time back toward the car.