The voice of a young child could be heard even before the elevator door opened. The animated chatter told of play, sights, sounds, and new ways to have fun. There was excitement and eagerness in his voice. He had discovered the wonderful. His mother’s silence was a catalyst for even more banter. The words spilled out in a sentence that ran over itself again and again. Emotions, insights, and questions blurred together in a story without end. It was hard to imagine where the boy was taking a breath. As the door opened, I wanted to watch! Somewhere he was gathering momentum. The words were spilling out without any indication that they would ever stop.
As the door opened, the young boy looked up as his mouth continued to move. My direct look, curious more than anything else, was the trigger for a sudden silence. Even as the echo of his voice dissipated, his big eyes told me that there was little point in asking a question. Fear, uncertainty, and the unknown had taken his voice.
His eyes did not leave me as his body turned and his arms reached up towards his mother. With no apparent communication, she gently lifted him to the safety of an embrace. His eyes never moved. In the absence of sounds, you could see a wave of assurance sweep through his being. His body told the story that has often been repeated; “My requests have all been granted, my prayers are answered.” (Psalm 6.9) His eyes were fixed what was next.
I kept my eyes on him and smiled. I knew there was little point in talking. As close as I was, I was not in his world.
As his floor arrived, his mom released him to walk out the door. As the door began to close the chatter returned. He was bubbling, animated, and curious. He had questions. Answers mattered less than the opportunity to put the unknown on the table. Confidence has returned.
Just when I think I am growing up, I realize I am still a child.