19 Jul 2011

What I've learned from children

We can learn a lot from little children, especially what it means to be trusting, to be joyful, to be unselfconscious. They throw themselves into every moment with abandon and are just as free with their honesty - sometimes to the chagrin of adults.


Those are positive characteristics of childhood that we often lose as we grow up. We need reminding from time to time to be more childlike in how we perceive things, or express ourselves.


Unfortunately there are other childish traits we hold on to and would be much better off for growing out of. I think of this almost every evening, when my nephews go to bed. Every night the routine is the same; there are no surprise expectations: brush teeth, put on pyjamas, fold clothes at end of bed, get into bed, say prayers, be quiet, no more talking, go to sleep.


Though the rules never change, and even though they are reminded - gently (at first)- what to do, they act like lunatics, taking forever to get ready, forgetting to clean their teeth, leaving clothes on the floor, and then talking and singing instead of sleeping. It isn't until an adult completely loses their mind and with raised voice, promises dire consequences for transgressors. Or more direct action is taken; this may shock you, but a bottom or two has been paddled in this household.


We're not so different, us adults. Our disobedience looks different, and the consequences are not the same, and yet we too rail against expectations and protest about the rules. God reminds us gently at first, but in our giddy oblivion we either don't hear, or we disregard Him. We ignore the clearing of the throat, the casual chat, the friendly reminder, the loving correction... until finally the grown up comes stomping down the stairs and declares that there will be no more computer time for the week. Or, you know, the spiritual equivalent of that.


From my nephews I have learned to pay attention to life... and hopefully to listen better the first time.

No comments:

Post a Comment