What a cool kid

And I’m not even talking about my own.

I went to the Borders bookstore tonight (my home away from home) and I was planning on making good used of my 40 percent off coupon. I went to the foreign language section of the store, because I’ve been wanting to teach myself German.

There was a boy of about 12 years old standing there. He was dark haired, fair-skinned and had a book on German in his hands. I quietly started browsing the books next to him. I picked up the Instant Immersion CD-rom set I’d been thinking about getting. I read the back of it, contemplated if it was as good as Rosetta Stone and worth the money of getting it.

After a moment or so, the young boy interrupted my thoughts and he asked me if I was looking for a good beginning German book.

I told him yes, that I was interested and he suggested a workbook and CD-rom set which was cheaper than what I had in my hands. He told me it was very good for a beginning book but that it didn’t have enough grammar in it. But he suggested two other books to help with grammar.

I asked him if he was learning German for school, or on his own. He said, he said German was his hobby. I asked him what else he liked to learn. He said, “oh, other European languages, like Russian”. I smiled because I already guessed that he was a linguist in the making and I said, “You know what? That’s very cool.” And I heard a nearly inaudible “thank you.” I told him I had a friend who loved languages and recently taught himself some German and I myself was learning German for fun, since many of my favorite authors were German, but I had to use the English translation.

You know what he told me?

“Yeah, it would be better to read the German translation.” And then he said, “Don’t let anyone tell you German is hard, because it’s not really.” I don’t know why, but the whole conversation left me quite pleased. And not just because he saved me about twenty dollars.

I thought he was very delightful but at the same time, I felt divided. A part of me wanted to keep talking to him because it’s so rare I actually have intelligent conversations with random strangers (yes, even at the bookstore), and another part of me felt guilty and wondered if his parent would come around and look at me funny for having a conversation with their underage child.

I wish I could have found his parent before I left to talk with them about their remarkable and helpful son.

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4 Responses to What a cool kid

  1. Lisa says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Casey. Your telling of the conversation is as delightful as the boy. I’m sure he will remember your encounter with the same wonder and fondness that you do, given how few people know how to interact with such children.
    ~ Lisa

    • raisingsmartgirls says:

      Lisa –

      I hope he’ll remember the encouragement I tried to give him. He was obviously bright and curious and hadn’t (yet) gotten the message that being smart was a thing to be kept hidden. I hope he continues to keep alight his flame of curiosity and wonder.


  2. Rick says:

    I know exactly what you mean. I am just getting old enough now (mid-40s) where I greatly appreciate intelligent, composed kids. It’s something beyond just being with another pleasant human being… it gives me hope, or rather, validates some faith in humanity I had forgotten about.

    • raisingsmartgirls says:

      Yes, I was surprised, delighted and I am hopeful too, because he WAS the first intelligent, composed child I had met.

      It was his quiet, respectful, and knowledgeable input that really both stunned and warmed me up so much.

      Quite honestly, it’s quite rare to find ADULTS like him. In fact, I am not sure I have found one (in real life) yet.

      I left thinking…”I want a friend like that for my daughters. No, wait a minute, I want a friend like that for myself.”

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