Those of you who know me are more than aware of how easy and natural it is for me to
find myself being babysat by kids converse with kids. Actually, it's more than just talking. I relate. Like, totally.
For example, I recently had the pleasure of spending time with two sisters from France, Marie and Claire (15 and 11 at the time), and Lukah, an 11-year old (at the time) girl from Australia.
In the first instance, there were some issues with language (My French capability is wholly unimpressive, oui), but that didn't stop us from becoming great friends and sharing lots of laughs, primarily at my expense (I think). It was abundantly clear to me that they were actually listening to the things I said (yikes!), so I did my best to share only facts (ok, I probably slipped in a few fun fibs for laughs), and to share as much knowledge as I could.
One particularly bright moment was when I brought a teeny-tiny baby octopus back to the boat. It couldn't have been more than 5-6mm in size, absolutely miniscule. But the bobbing blobby head and wee-wittle-waving arms were clearly formed. It was translucent, with coloured patches (perhaps incipient chromatophores?), and it was energetic.
I put the baby cephalopod in some seawater and showed the sisters, who devoted a good deal of time to studying the mobile mollusc, chattering away in French, gesticulating, and eventually emulating octopod locomotion. (Don't worry, we returned the little octopus to the ocean.)
I am not ashamed to admit my heart melted a bit watching how cute they were.
While I was away over the past few weeks, I received a nice hand-written note from Marie, and this adorable illustration from Claire (thank you both!):
And then there is Lukah, who is the daughter of the nephew of a really good friend (who is arguably the least mature of us all...you know who you are, Craig).
Lukah speaks English (well, Aussie, so that's kinda sorta English-ish, but then again, it's Queensland Aussie, so ummm....), which means we were able to communicate more directly.
Our relationship went through several phases. At first, Lukah was quiet and respectful. That progressed into inquisitive. Then to humourous. Then to ridiculously silly. And finally to stupid silly, where we found equilibrium. That process took about three hours.
I wasn't able to find another baby octopus for Lukah, but we held hermit crab races, and we talked about all sorts of animals. Lukah is an Oogway fan. She cracked up when I showed her the turtle treadmill video.
She and her siblings have a bona fide menagerie at home. A goat (Sam, who is such the photo-bomber), cats, chickens (one of which is named KFC), pigs, cows, guinea pigs, and more, something in excess of 26 names of animals to remember. They just got five ducklings too, for Lukah's birthday. She's 12 now.
Somehow or another Lukah found me in cyberspace, and we've since struck up a conversation. Here is how it started when the first message from her popped-up on my screen:
And it's only gotten sillier since 😊
Thank you Lukah, Marie, Claire for your friendship and for keeping me entertained! [And to your parents for letting you play with me]
[And Claire - a thousand apologies for my inability to pronounce poulpe correctly]