Listen and learn — A five-year-old boy teaches how to see the world

Young kids are wiser than you think


Sunday 6:30 a.m., the blue dawn hovered like a whisper over Charlottesville. The city looked blurry through my unfocused, sleepy eyes, as if someone had smudged my vision across my pupils. As I think back to that morning, I don’t remember much of it. There were shadowed buildings and a snoring train below the bridge that was humming Charlottesville out of its slumber, a few morning joggers huffing their way up the hill and some dogs walking around with tired tails.

I hurried to catch the train to Washington D.C. to visit my sister for the day. I snuggled into the Amtrak seat as comfortably as I could possibly get, but just as the world behind my window began to creak into motion and I began to drift off to sleep, a little boy behind me began to shout, “Look mommy, we’re moving, we’re moving!”

I’ll be the first to admit that I never really was a “kid person.” Whenever I would hear a crying baby, I’d typically put my headphones in to drain out the wails and forcefully smile at them in hopes that it would cheer them up and make them stop crying. It never worked. So when I heard the little boy shouting behind me as I was in the midst of dozing off and realized I had forgotten my headphones on my desk, I wasn’t the happiest person on that train to say the least. It was going to be a train ride that would feel much longer than two and a half hours.

Instead of sleeping, I looked out the window as the little boy pointed out every train track, every river and every construction site the train zoomed past. Instead of screaming “water fountain” when he saw one, he shouted, “Waterfall, waterfall!” Even though it was just a confusion of words, it made me think about how differently he saw the world from the way I did. I felt blind to what he saw.

In my peripheral sight, I saw the boy’s reflection in the window colored by the green trees outside. He was gripping onto the window ledge, nose pressed up against the glass, eyes wide and mesmerized as if he were seeing the world for the first time. The window was like his television screen. He was so easily fascinated by the smallest details I didn’t notice and took for granted, such as when another train ran parallel to ours and whenever our train would pull up to another station. I felt envious of him and nostalgic for the days when I saw the world like he did. The older I grow, the more the world seems to shrink and shrivel before my eyes, but to this boy, the world was inflated and bloated with beauty.

Upon returning to the University later that evening, I saw it in a way I hadn’t before. Dusk was settling over Charlottesville when I stepped off the train, giving it that light blue glow. It was humid, but not the bothersome kind. The cicadas had already begun chirping in a dissonant chorus for the night, a tune for the nocturnal. I climbed up the stairs and noticed the fairy lights of the restaurant next door I hadn’t noticed before. There were some fallen leaves gripping the ground and the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains poking the sky.

This was one of those times that made me regret constantly blasting music in my ears whenever I’m on the go, as if I want to avoid the universe as much as humanly possible. It made me think about what other things I’ve missed because I was directing my attentions away from where I was in the present moment. We all crave distractions like we do guilty pleasures, but every moment of our lives we spend distracted is a moment in which we will never know what we missed.

Victoria Laboz is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at

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