Service of the Child in All of Us

April 26th, 2021

Categories: Children, Children's Books, Cooking, Enthusiasm, Music

Scott Simon, NPR, interviewed Sandra Boynton and Yo-Yo Ma on “Weekend Edition” this Saturday about their collaboration for toddlers: “Jungle Night,” printed on thick paperboard. It comes with a downloadable recording that in addition to narration features a variety of animal snore noises–made by instruments–and includes a lullaby, “Jungle Gymnopédie No. 1.” The music is a combination of Ma playing Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1 backed by Ron Block on guitar, and Kevin MacLeod on drums.

During the interview Ma–and I quote loosely–said “I have the mind of a child. Every time I perform it has to be as though on a clean chalkboard; I start new every time. I’m not doing something because I did it yesterday.” He said his performances require a beginner’s mind and described a sandcastle at the beach that is different every day because the tide wipes out the previous one.

I imagine that a successful stage actor who plays the same role week after week must go about it similarly as did cookbook author/TV personality Julia Child. She worked on recipes countless times until she got them right nevertheless showed such joy and a feeling of discovery when she shared her tips on her TV show.

Many approach their creative jobs in the opposite way. A comment made by a former colleague, when I was at the intermediate level in the PR business, was a head scratcher. How the boss didn’t fire him when he was asked, “Why are you suggesting XYZ tactic for the client?” and he responded, “Because we’ve always done that,” was a mystery.  In another example, a client asked “why can’t we send out the same press release for each collection launch–just change the title?” The client wasn’t on the design side fortunately and would not have understood Ma.

Some of the best public speakers and many people others like having around share a youthful spirit and energy–a joie de vivre which has little to do with their age or lack of fame. A great aunt and my mother lived into their 90s. They were blessed with the spark. Neither were the slightest bit childish, nor is cellist Ma. There’s a difference.

Do you know people who approach their work and life with the freshness and enthusiasm of a child–often backed by study and hard work–resulting in magnificence? For what projects do you evoke the child that was in you?

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9 Responses to “Service of the Child in All of Us”

  1. Helen Rabinovitz Said:

    Since the pandemic I write silly little poems for the senior center. While they’re closed folks pick up a bagged lunch and in every bag there’s a poem written by me. Once in a while I write something serious. Mostly silly…one called “feathers” included a feather from my parrot Georgie. It was molting season. I also either draw a cartoon that has to do with the poem but sometimes I cheat and use clip art. I sign the bottom of each poem personally and I add Georgie’s name too. I get so much joy and satisfaction doing this. I also have fun….it’s good for everyone…
    Here’s an example:
    Feathers are soft
    Feathers are fun.
    Feathers are not for everyone.
    Birds have feathers
    Peach has fuzz
    One doesn’t tickle
    The other one does!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Oh Helen,

    What a gift you have and what fun for the recipients at the Senior Center! Few can beat this.

  3. ASK Said:

    I can’t point to specific projects that bring out the child in me…but I will say my curiosity about so many different things has probably preserved a child-like sense of wonder and wanting to know “why,” or “how,” or “what” of any number of phenomena.

    Yo-Yo Ma has described pre-performance nerves well. Too much confidence can be disastrous; even if it isn’t the first performance, for his audience, it has to his best.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    One of the best workshop speakers I’d assembled for a weekend of industry presentations refused to do a reprise the next year. He said he was petrified and never again wanted to put himself through it. You’d not have known it. Amazing how he, Yo-Yo Ma and other performers are able to control their nerves for the occasion.

  5. MarthaTakayama Said:

    I am always curious and eager to learn new things. I often get distracted searching in the computer trying to broaden my understanding of a multitude of subjects. I
    understand the sense of wonder that ASK refers to and look forward to absorbing new ideas.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I try to see things through fresh eyes whether it’s something quirky on the street–the way someone is dressed or out-of-place architecture in a lineup of buildings–or that needs tweaking such as a client’s marketing materials.

  7. MarthaTakayama Said:

    What a lovely way to keep up to date with the world around you!

  8. Lucrezia Said:

    Cellist Ma could be right. It’s worth trying!

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Certain tasks lend themselves to boilerplate such as the description of what a company does at the end of a press release or much of the language in legal documents. For others many would benefit from following Yo-Yo Ma’s approach and the public can be the richer for it. We can thank the scientists and researchers who developed our Covid vaccines, as well as musicians, artists, poets, authors and sports aces for their achievements, to name a few.

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