A moment on a bus where a dad and his daughter give me peace
I was on the bus today heading to work and a delightful sight was right next to me.
A little girl, probably about 6 years old, reading a book. She was intense, into it, never looked up. And next to her; her father. He was young, had young eyes but his face looked old. Probably the worries of the world on his shoulder as such a young dad. His dusty, dirty clothing spoke of a construction or factory job he was heading to. Both of them were reading. The little girl with her book about the adventures of a group of animals and her father, a Stephen King novel. I watched them out of the corner of my eye, finding peace with the sight.
I decided to pull out my own book. As I was seated right next to them on the side seat, the little girl saw me pull my book out and when our eyes locked for a few seconds, she smiled at me. One reader’s soul recognizing another’s. We were part of a secret club in that moment.
I turned to my book though I couldn’t concentrate because this little girl had my attention once more. She turned to her dad, to the book he was reading and commented on the artistic picture within, asking her dad what was happening. He began to tell her about the Stephen King story, what it was about. She listened attentively, asking him questions. He then asked her what her book was about and she began to tell him. And he listened attentively.
What a moment. The father describing a scary story from the imagination of Stephen King followed by the little girl talking about how Joe, the horse, ran away from his parents.
This rough looking, tired looking young dad was my hero in that moment. He was asking her questions about the characters in her book and she excitedly chattered on. A conversation about books between a father and daughter. It was obvious both of them had a love for reading and they shared this easily on the bus. I wondered more about this young dad. He looked like he had a hard life (if you could go off of looks alone). Maybe not a lot of money, living simply. But she had a brand new book in her hands by the look of it.
I thought about my own mother, a single mom, who never denied us new books. She had to work 2 jobs to put food on our table, but she never denied us the opportunities to read. She may have had a hard time sharing affection with us, but she never failed to read to us when we were young.
My independent mind, the openness of it – I contribute it to reading and being allowed to read what I wanted, being encouraged to read. I contribute it to my mother.
I wondered if this young father knew of the amazing job he was doing. By asking questions of his daughter about her book he was showing her how important her young, thinking mind was. He was showing her that he cared about what she thought, her opinions. He is contributing, encouraging and nurturing the independence of this young girl. Simply by caring about what she is reading.
For a week that was filled with a lot of negativity for me, this was a wonderful way to end it.
My stop came before theirs. I put my book away and got up from my seat and headed towards the door. As I was leaving I turned back once more, to take a last look at the two of them. They both were back to their own books – father and daughter – heads down, book in lap, and far away from the rest of the world.