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An adventurer, explorer, and philosopher.
She already knows the kind of world
she wants to live in.

A Young Philosopher

441 words


Lessons from a five year old
by Dianne Roth


I recently returned from a lovely visit with my two distant grandchildren. They are two of my five most favorite people in the whole world. The other three are my nearby grandchildren.

The youngest of my five most favorite people in the whole world is the youngest of the two distant grandchildren. She is five years old, an avid walker, a ponderer, a philosopher, and a naturalist.

Since she was three, I would say, “Want to go for a walk?” and she would be at the door, coat on, sketchbook materials in her backpack, tapping her foot in impatience at my slowness. “Come on, Nanna. Let’s go!”

We average about a mile on our walks which can last up to three hours. She is fascinated by frog egg sacs floating on the lake. She has learned the great blue heron call and can imitate the song of the cardinal…”Wiener, wiener, wiener.” She picks through the blades of grass to see what is under the carpet of green, loves the idea of moss, and sees creatures in the clouds.

We discovered flowering dogwood buds and began a two week study as the buds began to unfurl, exposing the bumpy flower that was beginning to swell.

She was diligent on every walk, making arrows on the trail so we would not lose our way home. And she loves to draw and paint in her sketchbook.

At one point she told me that when she grows up and has children, she is going to let them do anything they want. “Anything?” I asked.

“Well, I won’t let them play in the street, or go far away from the house, or hurt other kids.” I smiled.

One day she told me a story about preschool. Apparently, she had received a minor injury. She and a little boy were going down the slide together when his shoe scraped off a bit of skin on her ankle.

I expected to hear the Name-and-Blame game that is common in small children. Instead, she told me, “It really hurt, but I didn’t say anything to him because he didn’t do it on purpose and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.”

It is not unusual for me to be surprised by 5-year-olds. Mostly they make me laugh with their imperfect understanding of the world. But this simple story stunned me. I was touched by her heartfelt compassion and empathy, unusual in small children.

If I could, I would collect and bottle whatever this little person has going on in her brain and give it away to everyone I meet. It is this sort of thinking that could change the world.


Dianne Roth is a teacher, mother, grandmother, and freelance writer. She lives in Oregon.




Last updated on November 5, 2015