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Too bad we can't retain innocence of childhood

I work in an elementary school cafeteria. One day a kindergartner asked me: "How old are you?"

"How old do you think I am?" I replied.

"I don't know," she said. "How old are you?"

"Thirty-six," was my answer.

"Well," she said, "my mom's a hundred!"

Ah, the innocence of youth. Young children have no sense of time, age, censorship or racism. Once a young child told me,"Wow! You have fat legs just like my mom!"

Coming from a young child, this is funny. Coming from an adult, it is insulting. What is it about children that makes us forget about anger and bigotry? I think it is great that kids can be so honest and to the point, and can have friends of both sexes, any race and any creed, and not think twice about it.

I can always count on my youngest to make me feel better, no matter what. If I have a bad hair day, she's always there to tell me "you're the beautifulest mom in the world." If I feel bloated or think I look fat, I'll ask her and she'll tell me "just a little bit fat, but I love you just how you are." Well, I did ask her and, put that way, how can I be angry? She answered me honestly, and even put a positive spin on it. I could learn from her.

Children have an open mind where the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus live all year long. Just look at children when you mention Santa around Christmastime. Their faces light up and they grin from ear to ear. They are innocent and believe what you tell them.

My 15-year-old son had my 6-year-old convinced that he knew the secret needed to fly, and she ran around the house, following his instructions to the letter, trying to do so. I knew that her goal was impossible, but I let it go because seeing the enthusiasm and determination on her face was priceless. Children believe in things that seem magical or too good to be true. They are not afraid or embarrassed to try new things or something that seems impossible, such as trying to fly.

My 6-year-old begged me to have a friend over. When I finally gave in, she decided to call a boy from her class. I thought to myself, what are they going to do? She has girl toys. He won't want to play with any of them. They spent two hours playing table hockey, pool and kitchen, going for a walk and just using their good old imagination. There was no girl stuff or boy stuff, just fun stuff.

As adults, we see boyfriend, girlfriend, black friend, Muslim friend, etc. A child sees a friend to play with, talk to, do homework with or just hang out with. No discrimination, no bigotry.

Why can't we see things that way? Wouldn't life be much easier if we could put on a pair of "child vision" glasses every morning and see things as a child does? How great it would be to see things without prejudice. The ability to see things for what they appear to be, without having to look for hidden meanings or clues. To be able to be frank and honest, without being worried about angering or insulting someone.

Ah, the innocence of youth. I guess since I'm ancient -- at least in kids' minds -- I'll have to enjoy the innocence of the children I see at school, or the ones in my home. I just hope their vision doesn't worsen with age.

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