Children teach magic.
They are masters in joy, forgiveness and an unabashed belief in good. But perhaps more precisely children are magic.
If you’ve ever really played with a child—I mean get-down-on-the-floor, let-yourself-imagine and sing-off-key play—you know this. The kind of play where you lose the boundaries of space, time and rules, and burst into giggle fits. Maybe you mooed like a cow, played tag until you couldn’t breathe, or told a story that took the two of you away in wonder.
That is transcendence.
In my mind-blowing privilege of playing with children every day, I attest that children are teachers in every breath.
Their souls sparkle with bright and wise messages. They teach us to be present. They teach us to allow in love and expel great joy. They help us abandon judgment. Most importantly, they consistently offer the startling and simplest solution—love.
I have many examples of what I mean, but I’ll start with my favorite. After both of my cats took two traumatic trips to the vet, my home became an unhappy place. There were cones of shame and pain, and medications and stress spilling out all over the place. The two cats began to fight. I could not leave them alone together and Franklin (feline A) ended up with a considerable wound and stitches in his face at the hands (err, paws) of Noodle (feline B). Fairly distraught and even considering finding a new home for Noodle, I shared the situation during “Talking Stick” time with the children. They listened intently with concerned eyes and big, giant hearts. (Children use way more than just ears to listen.) And within this epitome of four-year-old attentiveness—and surrounded by a very comfy empathy I rarely enjoy from adults—they responded. One child sweetly suggested a Band-Aid. Another asked what color Franklin was. But the third, Mateo, looked at me with a small smile and a deep understanding. He spoke slowly and said this: “Miss Dina, I think you should wait a few days. And give Noodle lots of hugs.”
Now if you were not tuned in, you would have missed it. If you were hurried or unaware of the wisdom of children, this bit of brilliance could have been dismissed.
Under Mateo’s counsel, I was reminded not to panic, to wait and to have patience. There are a few regrettable times in my life when I so wish I’d practiced this. But better than this, despite the fact that I have clearly framed Noodle as the aggressor and villain in my story, Mateo knowingly, lovingly and solidly suggests I give Noodle “lots of hugs.” There is certainly no thought of demeaning or shaming Noodle. Mateo never even considered punishing or banishing Noodle.
His message was simple. Noodle was afraid and hurting and needed love. If I gave more love, conflict would fall away.
And there it is.
Truth still sings through a child’s soul.
Sadly, adulthood and distraction often muddles the truth in me. But through Mateo’s message, we are reminded that the hints to the peace we seek are pretty simple. And they’re all around—the sun rising and the flowers blooming and the way the day plays out.
Put the phone down. Watch. Play. Slow down, breathe and try to catch a ride on a child’s sparkle. Still enveloped in the other side we so want to understand, they are sharing secrets of this existence. They are vibrating higher, most definitely—though it is possible to join them, laugh along and learn along. Give more love, particularly to the one acting out, for there is where the most pain hides. And with that, conflict will fall away.
I followed a sweet child’s advice and yes, the cats have found their peace. No doubt due to a fresh infusion of love—big love that flowed past my own impatience and worry like water from a garden hose. And in my mind’s eye, there is a little brown-haired boy holding that hose, watering daisies and singing to ladybugs and smiling in a way that tells me he knows so much. He feels what’s right—beyond reason and rules. And certainly past what grown-ups say. Kids invite us along to romp and remember our reasons for being. They remind us to laugh and love and play.
And to give lots of hugs whenever possible.
Author: Dina Jo Madruga
Apprentice Editor: Lois Person / Editor: Caitlin Oriel
Image: Jesse Milan/Flickr