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Humans are different

different from animals?

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Sometimes it’s the context

that helps convince

a skeptic

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who cares about

such things.

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   Here’s what happened to my 4½-year-old granddaughter and her cousin, my 10-year-old grandson, who had an encounter recently at our house.

   Emma speaks Hebrew and Ezra speaks English.

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But for more you have to use the DOOR.

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[MORE]

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   First, Emma was born in Israel and lives there with my son and his wife, an Israeli. Ezra lives in upstate NY and part of the year in Tanzania. They have hardly ever seen each other. Further, Emma has bright eyes like her mother and long curly hair. But she is shy. How could she communicate with others beside her parents? Ezra could rattle away about the Buffalo Bills, the NBA, and the fantasy basketball team he’d selected–all in English, of course.

   The Christmas vacation brought several of the grandchildren together for several days and our small Florida house it still recovering. Several highlights occurred, but I’ll describe just one–make that two.

   One of Ezra’s projects, was constructing a 2295-piece Lego ship with 3 sails, “Destiny’s Bounty” (with 299 pages of instructions) on one end of the dining room table, while his uncle, Emma’s father, was assembling a similar-sized Lego monstrosity called “First Order Assault Warrior” at the other end. Finally, both were completed¹.

   As I got up a dressed very, very early the next morning, I saw Emma and Ezra, unnaturally standing side-by-side as he showed her many of the unbelievable features inside and outside the boat: beds, inner doorways, tools, weapons that could be fired, food, and even a toilet with a liftable toilet seat and toilet paper. For a half hours he let her peer through windows and doorways and move things around. She handled the small pieces like jewels and carefully put everything back in place. Not once did her curiosity lead to chaos. Nor did he push her away. She stood close and whispered together as if no one else was there, she only moving her hands, which didn’t beckon her body to follow. Fortunately, her 2½-year-old sister was not present.

   To me this was a highlight of our time together². A second highlight was soon to follow after Ezra and his father had to return early for New York to get ready for the family’s trip to Africa.

   Days later, it was a unusually quiet as our Odyssey van with 6 passengers made its way to the Orlando Airport for the return trip to Israel. It was my 8th airport trip there this season. Emma’s father was driving and I was in the passenger seat with Emma in her carseat behind me. Halfway there her soft voice broke the quiet:

   “I miss Ezra,” she said.

   “Why?” I asked.

   There was a short pause.

   “Because I love him,” she returned.

   And I heard much more than those perfectly spoken words–in English.

   Forgive me now for stepping back out of the scene and perhaps tainting it. In 3½ weeks English had become the noisy lingua franca of everyone, and it was the youngest among us who led the way.

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   ¹ Obviously, with the the table so occupied, we had to eat elsewhere. And, yes, the constructions had to be disassembled before the returne home. (I figured you would expect a footnote, so here it is.)

   ² Okay, here’s a 2nd note. There were 3 sons and 2 of their wives and 5 grandchildren together for the holidays, some arriving late and leaving early. And much more than Legos was afoot. There was the beach, endless trips in the golf cart to the pool, two trips to the zoo, the presents, church, pizza, etc., and, okay, a trip to Legoland.

   And how then are humans qualitatively different from animals? For one thing, humans amuse themselves with Legos and, not only that, they use these inedible pieces to attract other humans to them.