I have a small white card-stock heart on my cork board. It was given to me by a little 8-year-old girl whose name means ‘swan’. She came to the library when I worked. My coworker didn’t like her because she threw too many tantrums. But I liked her. I understood her. She wasn’t a spoiled tantrum-thrower; she was just awkward and smart and insecure. She was scared.
She would stand less than a step from me, her neck turning up at an impossible angle, her big hazel eyes poring through me. I don’t know how or why, but she knew I understood her. (Kids have that uncanny ability. She didn’t know, but she knew nonetheless, that I too had once been an awkward, smart and insecure child who had just moved from a bigger city.) She knew I could tell her when she was being unreasonable. She knew I could hug her and tell he it was all right.