August 14, 2019
What I Learned From a Five Year Old at Whole Foods
Wisdom from a five year old I met at Whole FoodsSource: A | Penelope Peru Photography
Under the glow and warmth of a late-summer sunset on the roof deck of a Whole Foods on my 18th birthday, wisdom was imparted upon me by an unexpected source… A five year old.
A Bit of Context…
Last summer, XtaSeay and I hadn’t quite settled into our current careers. I was still relying on freelance work while he was still holding a position at his old job.
I hadn’t quite mastered the art of public transportation yet, so I’d settle for circling around the backroad suburbs and riding laps around the library on my bike during my days home without him.
As fate would have it, XtaSeay had a shift on my birthday and couldn’t get coverage. I still wanted to spend the day with him, so I decided to carouse the mall near his old employer. With the unsteady pocket change in my bank account, I proceeded to windowshop while I waited for his shift to end.
In search of some good grubbin’ by the time the day began drawing to a close, I marched over to a nearby Whole Foods and ate alone on the rooftop…
Well, at least, I was alone at first.
Two Birthdays, One Whole Foods
Doodling away in my notebook with just an hour left until I’d get to see my love again, I could overhear kids frollicing around while their parents greet one another and thanked them for attending to their child’s birthday party.
It wasn’t long before a trio of kids had huddled around my notebook with their curiosities piqued. They brought me a few Disney princess stickers because they saw that I was sitting alone, and I gave them some custom stickers I had made and used to carry around in the pocket of my notebook.
I’m not quite sure what I was originally working on, but I’m a sucker for little ones, so I began drawing simple, cartoon portraits of each of them. Soon, I had a whole herd of children swarming around the picnic table.
Each child had their own set of wit and charm about them, and the way they ran excitedly to their parents with each portrait really warmed my heart.
One girl in particular – we’ll call her “A” – hung around to chat for awhile.
“You’re such a talented artist,” she chirped.
Without putting too much thought into what proceeded to roll off my tongue, I smiled and probably muttered something under my breath about thinking my art wasn’t so great. Afterwards, I might’ve realized that I was setting a bad example by outwardly displaying my insecurities, but “A” turned out to be the role model we all need in our life.
“Y’know, you don’t have to put yourself down,” she said with an admirable tone of determination underlying her voice. “You can just keep practicing until you’re good, instead.”
A’s optimismSource: A | Penelope Peru Photography
I was truly taken aback by her rationality, confidence, and wisdom. Where any other child might’ve brushed off the remark, internalized it, or just agreed that I wasn’t that great of an artist after all, she offered a practical solution: “Just keep practicing.”
We continued to talk for awhile about little things as I let her doodle in my notebook. XtaSeay had finished his shift and was navigating to a parking spot at this point. I told A I’d probably be leaving soon, but that it would be a few more minutes because he was parking.
“Oh, you two sound just like my dad,” A said. “He never know where to park, either.”
A: “He never knows where to park, either.”Source: A | Penelope Peru Photography
I laughed, and laughed even harder while telling my boyfriend about my evening on the car ride home. I wonder where she had heard that one.
Before I parted ways with the group of birthday kiddies, A left me with a goodbye that even seemed quite beyond her years.
“Umm, could you give your [contact] info to my parents,” she asked. “I want it, but you’re a stranger.”
A: “But you’re a stranger.”
I smiled and introduced myself to her parents, explaining that I had drawn a portrait of her and the other children. I then gave them my business card and told them A had wanted me to give it to them because I am a stranger – and “stranger danger” is the golden rule, after all. Boy, were they proud of the head on their daughter’s shoulders.
What I Learned From “A”
While “A” may not remember much about me or what she said that day in the years to come, those few words are something that have resonated with me. I often recall the story humorously, although her response was quite profound:
A taught me the value of optimism and inspired me to be more confident within myself, if only for a moment. I’m still a perfectionist and get fed up over my inability to reach my own standards, but instead of tossing aside my notebook in frustration, her advice has inspired me to instead take a step back, reflect, and try again: to “keep practicing.”
That being said, perhaps the most important thing A taught me that night was to never underestimate the wisdom of a five year old.
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