Friday, October 5, 2012

subway sights.

I watched two small girls make conversation on the subway this morning. It was effortless, natural.

"Here, let's be friends," one said to the other.

"Let's have play dates," the other responded.

They were both four, according to their fathers, who sat looking shy and timid next to their talkative daughters.

The first little girl who initiated conversation had long red hair that was tied back into a simple ponytail. She had on a yellow blouse and navy blue skirt. "This is my school uniform," she told her new friend.

The other girl was smaller and had curly brown hair and dark skin. She wore a rainbow tank top and jeans, and she was attached to her young father sitting next to her, constantly holding his hand and poking him in the face.

After a couple of stops of the girls laughing and playing 'patty cake,' the fathers started talking to one another too about school and where uptown they lived and how lovely it was to raise children in the city.

The young dad and his curly-haired girl got off the subway at 96th, and the other girl watched her go sadly. A few stops later, another little girl and her mother got on the train, and the girls started talking again, while the mother made hesitant small talk with the father.

When do we start to put our guards up? At what age do we hesitate to talk to a stranger unless the circumstances call for it? When will the world become scary for those two four year old girls?

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