Last week, I was given a prompt to actively listen in one conversation each day, with friends or strangers.
This is the story of a conversation I had with a tiny stranger.
A young friend and I met for a picnic in Richmond, in the south west of London. It was a hot day, so we sat under the shade of a large tree, overlooking the River Thames. There were many people sitting on the grass around us. We finished our picnic, packed up and were getting ready to leave.
Suddenly, I heard a little voice behind me. I turned around and I saw a small little girl with short, fine blonde hair. She was tiny – perhaps two and no more than three years old, and she was saying something and walking towards me.
I missed her first few words, but then I heard “I went to the waterpark”. She was speaking to me like she knew me. My heart began to flutter, I could feel my face stretching into a wide smile. "Yes, she’s really talking to me", I thought. She had something to tell me. "I'm going to try to actively listen to this little girl!" I felt this was such an incredible opportunity.
Though I couldn’t quite understand some of what she was saying (baby language I think ðŸ˜Š), she spoke with confidence, using her hands to express herself. She was enchanting. I glanced over at the lady watching her, "this must be her mother", I thought. She was laughing, she looked so proud of her daughter.
After a few short minutes, the little girl paused, and I thought it was a good chance to introduce myself and my friend. I then asked her for her name. She told us it was Hannah. “It’s lovely to meet you Hannah”, I said, “…and thank you sooo much for talking to us”. I really, really meant it, I felt so privileged. She looked at me for a few seconds, I could see she was thinking. She then said that she’d like to give us something. “One present for you, and one present for you”, she said as she placed something into our open hands.
I was overwhelmed, this was so special. We thanked her for her wonderful present. I felt her generous act was an expression of gratitude to us for listening to her.
As I walked away, I realised I hadn’t opened my hand, I was still clenching her present tightly. There wasn’t anything physical in my hand, but I didn’t want to let it go. Her precious gift is something I will carry with me for a long time.