The little red suitcase is getting another airing. I’ve stuffed it with my usual collection of jumpers, notebooks and scraps of paper. Trashy novels and snacks. I always think I’ll get more work done while traveling than I ever do – there’s usually so much to look at, out the window of the bus or train, or the endless parade of airport strangers. Sometimes, strangers refuse to be ignored.
Once I was on a train, planning a talk on play and conflict. I had laid out my notes and readings on both the little tables when I had that tickly feeling of being watched. I looked up and heard a scuffle from the seat in front of me. Hmmm, I thought, and went back to work. Scuffle, scuffle. I looked up again, suddenly, and heard a tiny giggle. Slowly, two brown eyes peered between the seats in front. They blinked, and then were gone.
For a moment I was genuinely annoyed. Couldn’t the world see that I was busy being terribly important? Just look at all these pieces of paper! They wouldn’t shuffle themselves. The seat in front, and with it the little table I was leaning on, bounced.
I ignored this and re-read my last sentence, a phrase about the transformative potential of supporting children’s play in unexpected places. My own hypocrisy stared me in the face and I felt… conflicted. The little eyes appeared again and with them two fingers that waved at me, like a curious bunny rabbit.
I folded up my notes and leaned across them, turning my hand into a dinosaur that landed on the armrest in front. The child gave a short, delighted squeak and the seat bounced again.
The dinosaur and rabbit met.