I love it when I hear a mother or father speaking gently to a child. They lean in and ask quietly, would you like this . . . or that one?
We know that these are delicate creatures, frail at times and we know that they do not understand yet how things work. They need us and count on us to explain and to illuminate. And above all, they count on us for the truth.
Studies show that children as young as two years of age can tell a lie. The number of lies told by children increases as the child grows older and a few lies, apparently, show that your child is progressing and maturing. A few lies mean that your child knows when he knows information that you don’t know. And he knows how to control his facial expressions to conceal his mistruth.
As I see children singing at concerts and bouncing around in stores . . . and I see cute pictures on social media of children anticipating Christmas, I wonder why it is that as adults, we often lose this excitement.
Wouldn’t it be magical if we adults were waiting for Santa to come down the chimney and leave gifts for us on Christmas night?
It is easy, of course, to look at children and yearn for the childlike innocence, the excitement, the boundless energy and the permission to jump up and down sometimes just because you feel like it.
But children also lose their tempers, don’t want to share and can sometimes seem oblivious to other people’s feelings. Children moan and cry when something is too boring by their standards. And they doze off in public, when they are tired. They sneeze on you and cough on you, too.
Come to think of it, I have met adults who do all of these things.
Calling someone a child can be the worst of insults. When someone lacks self-discipline or sulks when we ask for something, or they complain about something we consider insignificant, we say, “Don’t be such a child.”
But I think if we treated each other with the kindness that we reserve for children – if we explained things clearly, without bias, and strove for truth with each other, as we do for children, life would be simpler. And kinder.
If we looked at each other with the wonder and receptivity of children, imagine the hostilities that could be avoided.
If we could find our way back to a time when we played more, were enthralled to meet someone new and woke up each morning excited to meet the day, life would be more joyous.
I wonder why it is that we adults seem to carry most of the negative qualities we had as children (we work at suppressing these) yet we did not keep the good stuff, like excitement and wonder and easy forgiveness. It makes me wonder if the good stuff is, indeed, still inside us somewhere, only we have forgotten how to access it. How could the negative qualities have stayed with us but the positive traits have eluded us?
That good stuff must still be with us. The glee, the giggles, the ability to ask direct questions and get honest answers, the easy forgiveness, that urge to lie down on the floor in the hardware store because it makes you tired, or talking to and looking at strangers and evoking a smile, just because.
Yes, I think the joy is still there.
I’d never lie to you.