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KIDS, TRUCKS, AND THE LOVE OF LIFE

LIFE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL:
Kids, Trucks, and the Love of Life 

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I met Francisco, a mixed-race, bilingual, three-year-old, at the Geek and Coffee in Guadalupe two weeks after arriving in San Miguel de Allende.

Adjacent to the coffeehouse, there’s an enormous yard with picnic tables set in the shade of gigantic palm trees, brightly-coloured lawn chairs that are perfect for reading, and a children’s playground where parents bring their kids to play while they relax with an iced latte or cappuccino.

Francisco’s mom was untying a large, golden retriever from a metal stool the dog was about to pull over, when I noticed her children, and said, “hola!”

Her son came over, and immediately began talking to me in that spontaneous, open-hearted way that kids sometimes do — as if he’d known me all of his life.

When his mom saw how happy I was talking to him, she gave me a warning:

“He’s going to want to talk about trucks,” she said.   

Right away, he showed me his yellow dumpster truck with the big scoop attached, explained how it  worked, and said he wondered what would happen if a persona got picked up in the scoop.

I told him that would probably be dangerous for the human being.

Next, he showed me his other truck, which had a recycling logo on the side.

When he’d shown me all the doors that opened and closed, he moved closer to me, and began to tell me what seemed like a serious story in Spanish until he yelled out the last part of the story, and howled with laughter.

He looked at me, waiting for my response; but, unfortunately, my Spanish was too limited then to get the joke.

I told him I noticed that one of his trucks was a recycling truck.

He wanted to know what recycling was.

I explained that recycling is when you use something, like plastic, over and over again. For example, instead of throwing your plastic bags away, you can give them to the people at St. Paul’s Church, and they will make mattresses out of them for children who don’t have mattresses to sleep on.

If you use things over and over again, instead of throwing them away, then there’s not so much garbage in the ground, and it’s better for the environment— the earth, the trees, and the animals  — and it’s better for human beings, too.

It was hard to know if that explanation made sense, but he stood still for a while, contemplating it, and thinking about it, before he ran off to play with his friends in the playground.

His mother and I talked for a while about our recent moves to San Miguel de Allende, and how much we loved the city, before she ran off to prevent her two-year-old daughter from chasing the golden retriever she’d untied out of the gate leading to parking lot.

I wanted to say goodbye to him before I left, so I yelled across the yard, “Adios, Francisco!”

He looked puzzled. Who was shouting his name?

When he saw me waving, he yelled back in a loud voice, “Don’t forget what I told you about trucks!”

Everyone in the yard was grinning.

I assured him I would not forget what he told me, and, in fact, I thought about trucks all the way home. Now, I can’t help but notice each one:

The yellow dumpsters with forklifts; the fanciful trucks in the windows of the art galleries; the small pick-up trucks that carry vegetables down the narrow cobblestone streets to the local markets and grocery stores; and the flatbed truck my friend and I saw the other day that was stacked high with coffins, all wrapped in black cloth — a sight you’d only see in Mexico, where death is so much more in the open than it is in the United States.

But, so is the love of life more in the open in Mexico than it is in the United States. Every  week there’s another festival, a new reason to celebrate in the town square, and another reason for fireworks at 5 a.m.

As I walked home from the Geek and Coffee after meeting Francisco, I thought about trucks; but I also thought about the beauty of children, their innocence and trust, the passion and excitement for life that exists in the youngest of children.

I thought about how eager they are to connect with us through stories, especially the ones that make them howl with laughter, and the sweet, patient way they look at us, waiting to see if we will get the joke.

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Don’t forget what I told you about trucks!

 

16 thoughts on “KIDS, TRUCKS, AND THE LOVE OF LIFE

  1. Denise

    I love hearing about your new friend! I hope you’ll see him again so you can tell him you remembered.

    My brother-in-law and sister own a waste removal company. He talks about his stops be referring to the dogs and children at each address. Children everywhere love trucks, and it’s important they know about the recycling ones too!

    Reply
    1. cstuder0@gmail.com Post author

      Thank you, Denise! I was thinking of connecting with Francisco’s Mom. The other day, I heard that Mexico has a big recycling program, and I’m curious about what they do. I love the mattress-making project for the children who live in extreme poverty. Blessings to you!

      Reply
  2. Antonia Malvino

    I loved this. As someone who spent many an hour at the playground watching her kid, I can vouch for the fact that if you can speak truck–or even just listen eagerly–you will find many a friend among the young male set. I love kids for all the same reasons. Your descriptions of Francisco are perfect. I felt like I was there with you.

    Reply
    1. cstuder0@gmail.com Post author

      Thank you, Crystal! This encounter made me realise that although I’m retired from teaching, I’ll never retire from kids. What a kick they are!

      Reply
  3. Carole Whipple

    Loved the story, Carolyn. It reminded e of a coffin I saw delivered to the church in the back of a pickup and also a casket in the road up on a platform in the Guadalupe. Flowers were everywhere and so were friends paying their last respects to the family. Both of these incidents showed me how much death is a part of every day life as living is. Please write more.

    Reply
    1. cstuder0@gmail.com Post author

      Thank you, Carole! Your memory of the delivery of the coffin is such a great example of what we see here (and how different the attitude toward death is here than it is the United States). I’ll never forget the wake in Guadalupe that went on for several weeks.

      Reply
  4. Catherine Marenghi

    Lovely story, Carolyn. My son went through a truck-loving phase when he was a baby, before he could speak. He got extremely animated when he saw a truck of any kind. How wonderful you connected with this open-hearted child.

    Reply
    1. cstuder0@gmail.com Post author

      Thank you, Catherine! He was such a kick.It seems that boys are almost universally attracted to trucks! It’s amazing that your son would respond to trucks even before he could speak. (I wonder if that changes as they grow older?)

      Reply
    1. cstuder0@gmail.com Post author

      You are part of that sweetness, Lena! How glad I am that I landed in Guadalupe!

      Reply
  5. Kristin Pirie

    What a sweet story! The love of life down in Mexico brought back memories. I remember all the festivals, all the gatherings, family and otherwise, and all the Friday nights in El Centro, not to mention all the the fireworks! Do they still have the huge round firework thing that launches at the end of the display and lands on an arbitrary roof? Keep telling stories!

    Reply
    1. cstuder0@gmail.com Post author

      Kristin, you know I thought a lot about Julian while pondering Francisco’s love of trucks. I remember him telling me about the garbage truck that came to the street where you lived in Studio City! Didn’t he have a toy garbage truck? I will have to find out about the firework launcher! I did meet a woman recently who said that during a crowded festival in the Jardin, a part of the fireworks landed on her head, and her hair caught on fire. But a nice Mexican man next to her patted her head and put it out for her.

      Reply

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