Ten

Most children are ignored. But a few are so used to adults listening to them that they’ll strike up conversations with elders wherever they find them.

This 10-year-old boy found me in the waiting room at a voice over audition. We were there for different projects, but I was sitting across from him and his nanny, so that was reason enough for him to chat me up.

He was a handsome kid. His teeth were a white I’d never had and there were no sign of braces in their future. His skin was flawless—a light shade of coffee bean. I worry what puberty is going to do to it. He doesn’t share my concern. He’s too busy having fun. His smile and the healthy dreads he wore his hair in confirmed this.

His nanny said he was 10-going-on-33. But I said he was more like 10-going-on-23: just out of college and in love with the world. Instead of worrying about his future he was probably really excited about the guitar he was learning to play. And there must be a girl in his life who doesn’t mind hearing him trip up on covers, because she wants to be there when his fingers get a handle on things…

Even though he was 10 he had already done a lifetime’s worth of traveling. He had been to five of the seven continents and on one of his journeys had met a woman who had been to all of them—”Even Antarctica!” But she was much older than him. And I’m sure her traveling was one of need (spiritual? emotional? time clicking down?), while his was all about being along for the ride. Strumming.

The most recent trip he took was to Ethiopia. Did I have any idea how long it took to get to Ethiopia from Colorado?

A long time, I bet.

Even longer, he said. Because there was no direct route to Ethiopia. And there were so many flight delays and cancellations—it was crazy! But eventually he and his mother got there and they were able to spend three weeks in the African country before flying home.

It was actually his second time in Ethiopia, he added. He was born there—but doesn’t remember much of it—because shortly after his birth he was adopted and moved to the States.

Congratulations, I said.

He laughed.

Articulate, precocious, handsome—he had those cool dreads going on—and was even working! He’s the type of kid every parent wants. A 10.

I asked him if he ever thought about putting himself back on the market? You know, to see what he could get this time around.

The comment went over his head—he was too busy moving on to the next thing he wanted to talk to me about—but his nanny caught it and stifled a laugh into the neckline of her sweater.

Yeah, whoever his folks are, I bet this kid can do better.