The top deck of the bus through Inchicore was well-filled. Two seats in front, there sat a man with a girl of perhaps five or six years of age.
The girl had not reached that point that seems to come in the lives of most young people where she looked down all of the time, fixated upon the screen of a mobile phone through which to engage with the fake, imaginary world of the social media. Instead, she stared out of the window, pondering everything that the bus passed.
A soft drinks delivery lorry pulled up on the opposite pavement. The girl turned to her father. ‘Classic Drinks. Why does it say that?’
The father looked out the window to see what had prompted the comment.
Before he had a chance to respond, the girl spotted a second hand store and continued. ‘That shop is called The Treasure Chest’? Why is it called that? I can’t see any treasure.’
The man tried to give a sensible, grown up explanation as to why a second hand shop would call itself such a name. Perhaps it would have been easier to have suggested that it was like a cave from a fairy story and to have talked about chests of gold captured from pirates.
The bus progressed along its route with the girl practicing her counting instead of her reading, there was steady progress towards one hundred. Her father sat quietly and listened.
Passing Saint James’s Hospital, the girl spotted a blue square sign with a white ‘H’ on it. ’Look, there is a sign saying ‘H’, does that mean hole?’
Her father explained that it was a sign that straightaway told you that there was a hospital. The girl listened carefully to his explanation.
There was a moment of happiness in recalling the times when my own children were such an age, the times when they noted everything and when they delighted in reading every sign that we passed.
It seems odd that as we learn more we seem to be aware of less, the things that catch the eye and the imagination of a child are unnoticed or ignored by adults. Instead of life becoming something that grows in richness as the years pass, it becomes dull and mundane.
The girl’s fascination with the streets of Dublin 8 prompted the person sat two seats behind to more closely examine the buildings that were passed. There was, indeed, much to see.