When Marcia suggested the topic for this week’s ‘He Says, She Says…‘ post it brought to mind a poem I wrote for my mother for Christmas 30 years ago, called ‘Moments of a Child‘:
Moments of a Child
Trying to reach and touch the sky
Stopping to watch
clouds passing by
Living in a world where he’ll never cry.
Pausing to sniff a summer breeze
the autumn leaves
Building dreamlands from what he sees.
Skipping stones across
a placid sea
Thinking of what he wants to be
These moments come back so easily
For I remember when
Our grandkids are a little too young yet for tree climbing; one is barely beginning to stand and his older brother is figuring out his first pedal-less bike. Still, we visit them as often as we can and the transformations in them from one visit to the next are apparent. I think we enjoy two things most about our visits… one is obviously ‘family’ and the bonding that comes with being together to share stories, disasters and triumphs, and the other is the timelessness that comes with living in the world shared by the young’uns. We are very fortunate in that they accept us for who we are and invite us to share their world view with them. For them, everything is still new, each moment unique. And, after all, isn’t it?
As adults its very easy to become regulated by ‘clock time’ and by what Tom Brown calls ‘The Same Old Thing‘. Tom has said that it’s easy to spot the tourists on their first day in a new place because everything is new and they’re looking around and around, up and down, trying to take it all in. Unfortunately, after a few days even tourists begin to think that they’ve ‘seen’ what’s around them by now, and they go back into old habits. The trick to really experiencing each moment is not to take anything for granted, never to assume that one has seen these particular sights, heard these sounds, smelled these scents, tasted these foods or felt these surfaces before. When we set aside our preconceptions of what is or will be, we open the door to new experiences. Even if it ‘seems’ as though they’re the same as they were yesterday, or this morning… they’re not.
A couple of months ago our great-nephew came with his parents to visit and we took over watching him for several hours while his parents had some time for each other. We took him to a local park, and we were there for more than two hours. And what did we do in that time? Exactly and only whatever he wanted to do – within the limits of safety, of course. There was one point where he wanted to run, so he doffed his shoes and took off across the grass. We gathered the belongings and the stroller and followed, letting him explore his world. When he finally reached the point where he realized he was in strange territory and he had pushed his internal boundaries far enough, we simply gathered him up in the comforts of his stroller and blanket and wheeled him back to our place.
One other thing our little ones have yet to develop is a sense of judgment. This can work against them and it’s our duty as adults to guard against things that are obviously harmful, but within those boundaries we nurture and we guide and we allow them to be who they are. They accept us just as we are too, knowing us by how we interact with them. It’s a wonderful place to be.
One of Robert Fulhum‘s excellent books is ‘All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten‘. Our grandkids aren’t old enough to read yet, but as they make their way into this wonderful world of ours, I think this provides a great series of guidelines for all of us:
“ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN
(a guide for Global Leadership)
All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.
These are the things I learned:
- Share everything.
- Play fair.
- Don’t hit people.
- Put things back where you found them.
- Clean up your own mess.
- Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
- Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
- Wash your hands before you eat.
- Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
- Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
- Take a nap every afternoon.
- When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
- Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
- Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
- And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”
Good advice for all of us! The old adage is true… they really do grow up so fast. As parents, it can be all too easy to let this now moment slide into the next one and the next one and… until days, weeks, months have gone by. This time is precious; enjoy it!
Follow this link to read Marcia’s View.