As the years change, childhood stays the same


Joy Park

F[dropcap style=”flat”]F[/dropcap]inished are the days when learning comprised of grasping onto the concept of letters and numbers — the characters of the universe that intermingled to create words, sentences and communication.
Looking back, my childhood was a glorious era from the days spent at Barnes & Noble for hours on end with my nose buried deep in illustrious picture books (partly for the enjoyment of reading and partly for my strange pleasure of smelling new books) to the fun, stress-free learning environment of elementary school.
Several times throughout the year, I sit down to peruse old family albums. One album holds a photograph of my sister and me playing in a communal sandbox on Stone Road. Several frames later, two other kids that I had never seen are featured in the photo with us. The picture captured us laughing and making horrendous faces at the camera.
Last summer, my family and I took a trip up to Michigan. We swung by our old neighborhood; the same place where the photos were taken. Meandering around the neighborhood, fascinated by how little things had changed, we came across three little girls.
“Are you guys lost? I can show you the way. I live here,” boasted a sweet redheaded girl.
When we told her we were fine, she retreated a few steps, suddenly shy because of the denial. Instead of going back to her friends, the redhead retraced her steps and walked towards us again. She proceeded on by asking how our day was going, like nothing had happened.
Our conversation sparked the curiosity of her two other friends as they began rumbling over on their outgrown tricycles. The other girls began talking to us, too, as if they had known us for years and not just seconds.
Not a single thing had changed. The essence of childhood remained. In fact, I realized childhood doesn’t change.
How did those little girls, only six or seven years of age, have the boldness to confront three complete strangers as if we were long lost friends?
I’d like to think that childhood protects us all from the evil happenings of the world. The innocence, the naiveté. It protected us from discerning our differences.I’d like to think that childhood protects us all from the evil happenings of the world. The innocence, the naiveté. It protected us from discerning our differences.
Looking back on my childhood, I remember everyone was loving, from my patient teachers to the friendly cashiers at the local supermarket. What ran the world was love.
Or so I thought.
As we mature, we begin to be more informed and educated on current issues and topics. We harness the power of knowledge by thinking and arguing on our own free will. And by thinking, we begin to condemn those who think differently from us. Society begins to separate like the Red Sea.
It’s ironic how we were all raised and disciplined to respect and listen to one another. At the rate we’re going, children seem to be more mature than adults attacking one another for having different thoughts and opinions.
Sure, not all kids are worth learning from. There are those occasional gross booger-eating kids, the whiny ones, the crybabies and those that are wickedly cunning. But they can’t help it — children will be children.
As Whitney Houston sang in “Greatest Love of All,” we should, “teach them well and let them lead the way; show them all the beauty they possess inside; give them a sense of pride to make it easier; let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.”
Kids love and they respect. Never do they hate or hold grudges for long periods of time. They forgive and
forget, and they move on.
For adults, love and forgiveness may be the hardest act in the world.
Children treat people like people. Kids don’t judge each other based on the color of their skin. There’s no such concept as “superiority” or “inferiority.” They’re all on the same level. And that’s why we all have a thing or two to learn from kids.
I hope the essence of childhood remains constant throughout the ages. I hope they’re kind and loyal to one another, treating each other with respect and dignity, as we all should.
Is there anything that you’ve learned from kids? Leave your comments below.