I’m excited to share a guest post by Lew-Ellyn Hughes. L.E. is a delightful writer who shares short stories about Maine-life in her column in the Irregular. She recently published a new book, Maine Stories, that you’re sure to love! I’ve nearly finished it, and L.E. makes me proud to be a Mainer, makes me chuckle at our eccentricities and reminds me of the everyday goodness in normal life. I think this quote from her book sums it up best:
“The big cities might hold all the powers, but Superman lived in Smallville, and the most powerful superglue to a community is how folks care for one another.”
You can find her book at your local bookstore, or purchase a copy from her website.
I work at Sugarloaf Mountain Resort, teaching children to ski. The chairlift ride is a perfect opportunity to get to know the kids. The conversations we have are some of the most enjoyable I’ve ever experienced.
Children have a simple understanding of how things work. For this reason, I enjoy asking them unusual questions. I love the answers to which I am treated.
“Why do bunnies hop?” I asked a five-year-old boy.
“My dad doesn’t know and so neither do I,” he said, unconcerned that he didn’t know.
“How do you know your dad doesn’t know?” I asked.
“Because he would have told me,” he explained.
Dad may not have told this child about bunnies hopping, but this child’s answer told me oodles about this wonderful, involved dad.
“Why do bunnies hop?” I asked a six-year-old.
“I have no idea; I want to be a paleontologist,” she said.
Thrown off guard, I was silenced and tried to remember what a paleontologist does. While I was thinking, she spelled it: “p-a-l-e-o-n-t-o-l-o-g-i-s-t.”
“Why do bunnies hop?” I asked a seven-year-old boy.
“So they can jump out of the way of the animals that want to eat them,” he said. (Here’s proof that knowing it all can take the fun out of life.)
“Why do bunnies hop?” I asked a three-year-old. She looked at me, her brow furrowed. I could read her mind; she was wondering if this was a trick question.
“Don’t you know?” she wanted to know.
I shook my head.
“Because …” She spread her hands out in front of her and explained the simple. “They’re bunnies!”
And that was the answer I had been looking for.
We expect to get certain things out of life, and I believe we have trained our kids to think the same.
One little guy proudly showed me his wiggly front tooth.
“Be careful,” I warned. “I know a little girl who did that. Her tooth fell out and landed in the snow …” I pointed to the ground several dozen feet below us, “… way down there, and it was lost forever!”
He looked at me with eyes as wide as half dollars. “WHAT?” He was horrified. “No money from the tooth fairy? What a rip-off!” he yelled.
Many times, I have no control over the topic.
I asked a four-year-old if she was having chicken fingers for lunch, because four-year-olds usually go for that sort of thing.
“I’m a vegetarian,” she said.
“I guess that answers my question,” I said.
“Are you a vegetarian?” she wanted to know.
“No, I’m not,” I answered.
“So, you’re a meat-eater,” she stated matter-of-factly.
“Yes, I am,” I said (although “meat-eater” isn’t exactly what I see when I look in the mirror).
“Why are you?”
“Why am I a meat-eater?”
I pondered. “Because I never was not one,” I supposed.
She looked at me and frowned.
“Maybe it’s because I’m from Maine.”
She seemed to understand that better.
The next day as we settled in on the chairlift ride, the subject came up again.
“I told my mother you are a meat-eater,” she blurted out.
“Did you tell her I ate a moose?” I blurted back.
Her jaw dropped (you could have put a moose in her mouth).
I treasure the conversations I have with these children; they never cease to amaze me. It only takes a few short minutes riding up the chairlift in my world to be enlightened by theirs.