When mice quit running in circles.

She is only five or six. Blonde haired. Green jacket with two big red fabric flower pockets on the front.

Her mother is in her late twenties. Harried looking. She is talking into her cellphone as the two get on the C-Train.

There is an empty seat behind me. The mother motions to the little girl to sit while she stands beside her, still talking on the phone.

“Mommy. I want you to sit with me,” the little girl says.

The mother keeps talking on her phone.

“Mommy. I want you to sit with me,” the little girl repeats.

The mother keeps talking.

The little girl’s voice gets louder, more strident.

“I want you to sit with me.”

The mother stops for a moment and tells her daughter to be quiet.

The little girl repeats her request. Louder again. More whine in her tone.

The mother keeps talking.

And they repeat.

And repeat.

My stop comes and I get off and notice the passenger beside the little girl getting off too. The little girl scoots over. The mother sits down, still talking on her phone. The little girl grabs her arm.

I wonder what she’ll ask for next as I leave the train and continue on with my day.

I witnessed this scene play itself out yesterday as I rode the C-train into the downtown core and I wondered. Did the little girl really want her mother to sit down, or did she just want her to pay attention to her? Was her, “I want you to sit with me,” just another cry for her mother to “Look at me! Look at me!”?

At one point, a story of how her mother couldn’t sit down because mother’s can never sit down, flit through my mind.

The mice who run the wheels who make the C-train work would stop running in their tracks and want to sit with your mother too if your mother sat down, I wanted to tell the little girl. Mice are like that. They run and run around in circles until someone sits and then everyone follows suit. Wouldn’t that be horrible if all the mice running the wheels stopped and tried to sit on your mother! Oh my, what a scene that would be.

And btw, I’m not fond of mice on C-trains. Are you?

I never told the little girl the story. I never did anything other than listen in and wonder, how much am I like that little girl and mother? How often do I ignore the world around me as I go about my day all wrapped up in the conversations I’m having in my head, or on my phone?

Sometimes, our thoughts can be like the imaginary mice running around in circles in the wheels of the C-train. They make the wheels go round and round, but going round and round can lead to spinning out of control when done in mindless following of the path of least resistance.

Sometimes, we’ve got to put away our phones, turn off our laptops, the TV, the radio and other devices of mass distraction and simply sit still and be present in the moment of breathing.

Sometimes, we’ve got to let go of busy and simply be present to our inner child’s calling for attention.