I was walking out of a follow-up training session for Souns at a Mamelodi primary school in Pretoria, South Africa. It was raining. A young student, probably 9 years of age, walked by with the characteristic smile so freely granted by township children. I smiled back and waited under the eave for my co-Rotarian who was still inside saying his farewells to the headmaster of the school.
I continued observing this young person walking slowly under the eave, sometimes avoiding the rainfall and sometimes not. He had an orange rind in his hand, sucked empty through the hole carefully formed in the top.
He paused, preoccupied with something about the rain. He considered his little empty vessel and then the broken stream of rain dripping from the roof. All his movements were slow and contemplative. The brain was at work, unhampered by any adult directing him to hurry to class or to stop “messing around.” There was no messing around to be seen. This very serious young mind was designing. He moved his carefully reshaped orange rind under one of the chains of drips falling from the roof. He watched with great concentration, making not a single move, as his little natural cup was filling with water. The moment was timeless.
I had to leave, as my host had already reached the car. I imagine the child drank the water out of the little tool of a cup. Perhaps he had something else in mind. I do know that uninterrupted moments like this one are vital for a young creative mind to develop. Too often our adult deadlines, schedules, and pressures leave no space for children just to be who they are – young developing human beings who need to explore, think, consider, weigh, observe, try, fail, and create in child time. Adult footsteps do not fit a child’s stride.
The image will likely be with me for a while, the thin little body on a very gray and rainy day catching drips of water with the bright orange vessel in his hand… the entire world seemed to stop for this child at that moment.