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Obama, Garden Tours, and Mysterious Boxes: On Innocence and Inquiry

           Last weekend, I happened to stumble upon a garden tour--and not your average garden tour. As I was sitting in an outdoor café in Washington, D.C., I noticed people walking by carrying brochures with five wondrous words printed in fanciful text on the cover: The White House Garden Tour. White House! A little Internet stalking and presto. I found that there were free tickets for this event and that it happened once a year. What a happy accident!


            While waiting in line at security the next morning, the surreal experience was punctuated by many children gleefully skipping, playing, and enjoying the beautifully sunshine-filled morning. One toddler in particular was right behind me, perched on his father's shoulders. I couldn't help but overhear their conversation.

            Son: "Dad: Where is Obama?"

            Father: "He's probably inside, eating breakfast."

            Son: "What do you think he's having for breakfast? Do you think he likes cereal?"

            Father: "Who doesn't like cereal? I bet he does."

            Son: "Dad: Why is he not out here saying 'hello' to us?"

            Father: "It's early. I'm sure he is just getting up and is eating breakfast."

            Son: "No, I think he is hiding in that box."


            The eager-eyed toddler pointed to a stack of large, black boxes right beside the metal detectors under the security tent, which I'm certain housed a super-de-duper top-secret security device (or maybe an army of tiny ninjas to protect the first family).

            But the toddler was adamant. He was sure. He was full of wonder and in awe of the box.

            Son: "Yes. I'm pretty sure Obama is hiding in that box. I bet he's going to come out soon. I bet he's playing."

            I couldn't help but giggle at this beautiful tidbit of conversation, and think of the inquisitive mind that was asking all of these great questions. And I couldn't help but think of my take-away from this small sliver from the everyday life of a child.

            May we all remember what it's like to have the innocent and inquisitive mind of a child. May we continue to ask great questions and look at the world with an air of excitement sprinkled with magic, constantly wondering who is hiding inside the box.

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