Children have usually been a big part of my adult life … but not now. I miss them.

I taught blind and low vision children. I got to know a lot of fully sighted kids as well. My favourite moments in school were when the child and I were in conversation. It didn’t matter what the topic was, as long as there was connection.

I’m sure you know when you and another human being are connected. It’s mysterious – beyond words, beyond eye contact – but you know it’s real.

Last night I went to the Celebration of Life for my dear friend Wim. First there was a Mass (in Flemish). The words escaped me but I could feel the love in the room. Three young kids read something. I smiled to see them play a part.

Afterwards, Lydia, Baziel, Lore and I were invited to join the family for drinks and snacks. I had a couple of cool 1-1 conversations in English. Often though, I was on the outside of a small group discussion in Flemish.

I decided to go find the kids. I walked into the TV room and there they were – five of them stretched out on a huge ottoman watching some show and a few others gathered around cell phones. Someone at the party had told me that children in Belgium start learning English at age 12, and all of these folks looked younger than that.

Some of the viewers noticed me sitting off to the side. Only one girl connected with the eyes. She came over to sit with me for a minute.

So … ten young speakers of Flemish and one adult speaker of English. Still worth a smile. Clearly “the conversation” was not going to happen. So I just sat there, happy to be in their presence. It was enough.

A task awaits in my Belgian future:

How to make an impact on young people in my new home

I’ll find a way

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