One of the greatest gifts on this earth is children. I love the fact that even though I don’t have children of my own, I’m allowed the privilege of talking with kids and watching them flourish at church, the park, and other areas. Children have the unique ability to call things like they see them. In many ways, I admire kids because they haven’t become as tainted and bitter in their observations as adults.
Before the pandemic, I spent time at the park taking long walks and just having a little time for myself to sort out so many issues that are playing out in my life. One of those walks had me observe a family who was having a disagreement of opinions. They had three children. Of those three, one was a little girl. Her brothers were ribbing her because they didn’t want her to join in on their fun. You could see the fire in this little girl to not be left out. I’m not exactly sure what one of her brothers had in his hand that she wanted but she managed to grab it out of his possession and run with it. Her brothers chased her trying to get their treasured item back and she loved every second of the attention she was getting. She taunted them back saying it “wasn’t her fault they couldn’t catch a girl.” I had to chuckle. This little girl wasn’t afraid to stand her ground with her siblings. If anything, she egged it on because she loved the attention.
It reminds me of many conversations that I’ve had the privilege of being part of over the years. At my church, I loved watching parents with their children. The reason? Children educate us because they are more open to learning. There are people in my life who love to say that they “told you so.” But the kids that I’ve heard over the years would say off the wall things like “It’s not my fault you don’t pay attention.” or “You think that just because you’re older, you’re smarter. Well, I’m shorter and faster.” Or another favorite, “I’m not afraid of anything. Fear is only in your mind.” I heard that from a really young kid who couldn’t be more than about six now. If you want technology to be something you get help with, ask a kid. “What’s so hard about this? It’s just a game.” This after I had tried to get into a program on my phone that was locked up and I handed my phone to a ten year old. I was in the game in seconds. Thanks to him.
Kids have a purity that gets lost as they age. Their innocence allows them to experience the world and remind the rest of us about the issues that are most important. They love to grow and learn. Many of them want to grow up too quickly and in the process, they lose the ability to navigate things with clarity. The world isn’t cut and dry but to a child, a child can see opportunities to unite rather than divide. A child will tell it like it is without any thought about what they are saying. I envy them sometimes. Many of them have the propensity to change hearts without even recognizing that’s what they are doing.
Kids adapt to change better than most adults. Part of it is that they are still growing and they are more open to certain types of changes as opposed to their parents and mentors. Not every child is this way. Some children become more withdrawn while others learn to fly. There’s a young woman at my church who has been through a lot in her short life. When she first came to the church, she was timid, shy, and her confidence wasn’t anywhere near peaking. Over time, she had the support and love of several members in the congregation who helped her and her family keep going. That support has turned into a lifeline for her. She now is a leader with dreams to make the world a better place. She isn’t willing to sell herself short. In fact, she’s learned that she can be anything she wants as long as she believes in herself. It’s through that foundation that she has learned to speak up when she needs to. I remember when she was little, she was fascinated with technology and loved to sing. When she spoke, she had so much seriousness in her that at times, I found myself hoping that she would learn to loosen up a little bit. We have so much life in all of us. It’s almost ironic when we hear the kids we know tell us what they think.
Some of the kids I’ve worked with over the years have complained that adults don’t take them seriously. They state that “their parents work too much” or that “no one thinks that kids know what they’re talking about.” These statements are not always accurate but the perception could be spot on. In many ways, kids remind us that for a fleeting moment they’re kids and when we can barely blink, they’ve grown into adults with their own children to raise. It’s hard to watch sometimes. It reminds all of us that we don’t stay young forever.
My hope for kids today is that they are made to feel safe and loved without the threat of violence, human trafficking and drug issues that many of them face on a daily basis. I hope with every fiber in me that kids have the ability to voice their opinions and be taken seriously. In this world of COVID, it’s changed the ways our kids learn and interact but I truly hope that they are able to have a childhood and not rush into adulthood. Being a kid is special. We only get one chance at being a kid and when we becomes seniors, it may be a second type of childhood, but the bodies ache more, the limitations are greater and the loneliness may be a factor. This is a new world. In some ways, we need to learn from those who are pure in heart and spirit. Only then can we begin to open ourselves to new ways of living and new possibilities. Children have the ability to see what we can’t. Maybe it’s time we listened to what they’re really saying.