The other day a little 7 year old boy, Jonas, sat on my lap during lunch time. He turned around to face me and looked at me with really big brown puppy eyes and insisted, "I want you to hug me." I raised my eyebrows, trying to hide my surprise, and how awkward this was for me, and said, "Ok." Ok. I said it more to myself than to him. Ok, I can do this. Not a big deal. Just a hug. Ok, here we go. I put my arms around him and added just a little pressure, afraid that I might break his tiny bones. Ok. Right. This should be enough, I thought. But then he tugged the ends of my hair and somehow fumbled or shifted a bit before throwing his arms at me and squeezing me tightly.
I felt like a mother. Very strange feeling. Warm and fuzzy all over. For a split second I wondered where his mother was and what she was doing. I smiled tentatively and he grinned back. A very very big and silly grin. He turned back round and proceeded to eat his lunch, still on my lap, while I stiffened up and was careful not to move too much or talk too much.
Children are a lot more beautiful than adults because they can't hide anything. They want what they want, they hate what they hate, and they love what they love. Their motives are transparent. It is all so simple and direct. And most of all, incredibly, refreshingly, honest. They try to be adults, but they can't.
The kids I look after have so many tricks up their sleeves. They are capable of so much more than I ever imagined. They lie, they steal, they cheat, they cry to get attention, but somehow, at the end of the day, I realize that 7 year olds are only 7 year olds after all. They don't know what they are doing half the time and they don't know any better. They just want their fair share of dutiful affections, paper aeroplanes, pokemon stickers and 10 cents coins.