My son was doing something silly, and my husband told him to stop being childish.
My son then immediately reminded him with dramatic expression on his face, “But I am a child!”
My husband and I couldn’t help but laugh, as we agreed with him that—it was his right to be childish.
My son surprises us all the time with his quick wit and spontaneous humor, and I often wonder where he gets it from, as it’s not something that can be taught at school or at home.
As I’ve observed my son and other children over a period of time, I’ve realized there are some qualities that come naturally to children. Sometimes these are lost as children advance to adulthood, as they are taught the ways of the world by adults.
I remember a time when a local child gave away one of his toys to a friend because he wanted his friend to have the same toy that he did. He was then scolded by his father for doing so. I still remember the child’s innocent face as he was trying to make sense out of his father explaining that he did not want his child to be taken advantage of.
As adults we assume that if we are simple, childlike, and innocent—the world will take advantage of us, and we will not be taken seriously by anyone. We as a society both consciously and unconsciously discourage the preservation of childlike qualities.
We feel that we should be mature and wise. But in that pursuit of maturity and wisdom, we tend to lose some of the most beautiful qualities we possessed as children. Three in particular. If we worked on preserving these qualities into adulthood, we would all be much happier.
Living in the present moment: The most important life lesson we can learn from children is to live in and enjoy the present moment. If we observe children, we can see that they are incredibly present. Most children live free from the burden of the past, and worry of the future. If they are unhappy about something, children may cry and whine momentarily. The next moment, they forget that unhappiness, engage with something else, and play happily again. I wish that as adults we could also forget unpleasant happenings this quickly, regain happiness, and be content to live in the present moment.
Love: We all know children that are full of pure love. This is one of the things that makes them so special. A child’s love does not demand anything, has no calculations, and is unconditional in nature. Children may not know how to express everything “properly,” but their gestures express their love loudly. Another great thing about children is that their love does not differentiate or discriminate based on anything. If we observe them playing at school or at the park, we notice that they love and enjoy their playtime—even with children who may be different from them. I was deeply touched by my son when I overheard him as he was talking to himself and his imaginary friends during playtime—saying that he loves his family, friends, everyone around him, and the entire world.
Compassion: I was reading a story to my son that ended with one of the characters getting punished due to his greediness. My son became upset and said, “It’s not nice that he gets such a punishment! He probably didn’t know that being greedy is not good.” Initially, I was taken aback by his statement, as we are so conditioned by rules and morals in the world. He knows that there is a punishment for wrongdoing. But when I thought a little more about what he said, I could see his compassion for the character suffering from the punishment.
Wouldn’t it be so nice if there were ways to transform evil into good, instead of punishing or destroying it? I have observed compassion in many children, as they care about others and help those who may be injured or sick. Compassion is natural in children, and it’s a great quality, as it helps us to understand and sympathize with others—and can truly unite us as human beings.
I am not sure at what age children lose their innocence and these pure qualities, but we should try our best to keep their innocence and purity intact for as long as possible. We can nurture these qualities by encouraging them, being role models for them, and talking to them about the great living examples of these qualities in the world.
As parents and teachers, we show children how to eat, how to read and write, and how to be independent. But we can definitely learn from them, too. I encourage us all to remember this as we are influenced by the world and its experiences.
When my son invites me to be his buddy when he is immersed in pretend play, playing like a child with him fills me with joy. Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we were more childlike from within—instead of constantly being in pursuit of worldly wisdom? If we all could all be loving and compassionate toward others, and live happily in the present moment, the world would change. I am grateful to the children of the world for reminding me so.
Author: Pinky Mukhi
Image: Unsplash/Larm Rmah
Editor: Jen Schwartz
Copy Editor: Travis May