Little kids

Little kids

Yesterday I went to my favorite cafe in Hanoi to write “If I was a girl“. It’s a cozy place with a high wooden table and a window view to observe the traffic go by. As I sat there and wrote, these two adorable little kids stole my attention.

To set the scene, I had my headphones in, ignoring the world, focusing entirely on what I was writing.

Then, in my peripherals, I watched two little kids stand in front of the table next to mine. They were waving. Their mouths moving. Waiting impatiently for me to look in their direction.

I was mid-paragraph. Writing about what color my parents would dress me in if I was a girl. When I finished my thought, I slowly removed the right earbud from my ear and turned to look at the little girls.


Rapid waving.

I think they were sisters. The older of the two was maybe 7 or 8 and the younger was probably 4 or 5. The little one was quiet and shy and was just like a little yellow version of my beautiful niece, Adriana.

I smile. I wave back.


The little kids laughed. Their pretty smiles light up my day. Since I arrived in Vietnam, I have had minimal contact or social interactions.

I just broke up with China and I wanted to use Vietnam as a Wi-Fi friendly space dedicated toward developing my business. This is a huge project which requires the next 3 years to learn and scale and grow and earn.

So, the only people I ever encountered while working and living in Vietnam were the occasional travelers, the prostitute I paid, some local business owners, a few local beauties from all the best dating apps, and now, I can include these adorable little kids.

Not long after I said hello, they ran away giggling and returned downstairs. This brief experience caused a smile to split across my face. A smile that was pure and completely overjoyed by the spontaneity and genius that comes naturally to small children.

I put the earbud back into my right ear. I look at the screen again. I wonder, what will I write next.

A new thought crossed my mind. I played with it. I let the words roll around in my mind. Then, just as the idea began to solidify in my head… the little kids came back.


More waving.

I pull the earbud out from my right ear once again.

“Hello, what’s your name?”

When the older girl heard more than a simple hello she cocked her head to one side and stared with confusion.

“I said, What’s. Your. Name?”

I spoke more slowly and gently and silly and clear. However, the little girl’s head simply bobbled back and forth, not understand anything I said, but enjoying the chance to listen to strange things.

She ran. I laughed. Then, her little games would begin.

Now, the game we played is one of those unspoken rituals that emerge magically from a child’s imagination. It was the older girl’s game and the little one followed.

Each time I turned back to my laptop, after no more than a minute either one or both of the little kids would return to say, “Hi”.

If I made her wait too long, she would make silly faces and gestures until she grabbed my attention. Next, she would knock on the table again and again and again, until I finally looked causing her to run away.

In the midst of my writing, these kids played and played.

There’s something magical about children. Each one is unique and completely different. I remember when I returned to Canada to meet my niece for the first time, who is now 3, and my nephew for the second time, who is now 5 (or 6). You can see the influence, to some degree, of culture, of parental input, and of social imprinting.

However, no matter how much culture or parents or society try to mold children, there’s always a spark, a gift, a spontaneous light that emerges from their being.

Jef van de Graaf
Canadian Copywriter & World Traveler
Business | Travel Blog | Connect

Read what I read:

12 Rules of Life: An Antidote for Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson.


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