On the road and in the air

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.


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