… I learned in Kindergarten. Remember that book? I loved it so much it used to sit right by my single bed at night, its pages worn from constant thumbing. The main concept was that the essential knowledge we need to get through life we actually learned way back when we were kids.
Kids. I love ’em. (With five sons, was there ever a doubt? 😉 ) In the part of the world where I live, there are children everywhere: in the streets, on the roads, in the churches… I suppose you could say we have a pretty heavy youth sector of the population. And I like that!
I remember once, on a trip to Paris with my hubby (one of the very few trips we made without dragging along the kiddies with us), we ended up missing our boys more terribly because there were just no children to be seen anywhere! And it wasn’t as if we were holed up in our hotel; we were moving about! We saw more dogs on leashes than we did babies in strollers. Okay, we did see one, an adorable little boy. I wanted to snatch him up and plant a huge kiss on his cheek, so happy was I to see a little one that was not covered in fur. Since I couldn’t do that (at least without sending the unsuspecting mom into a flight of panic), we did the next best thing: we hopped on a plane for home the next day, back into the arms of our kids.
Today’s Gospel at Mass was about the apostles shooing the little children away from Jesus (in their defense, I think they were very well-intentioned, albeit a little naive, wanting their Teacher to get some rest after all that teaching). Instead (and much to their surprise and, I suspect, a bit of embarrassment), Jesus welcomed the children into his arms with those famous words: Let the children come to me, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of Heaven belongs.
Powerful. I love those words and keep them always close to my heart. Those words never fail to increase my forever-growing appreciation for my children, these 5 boys I have been blessed with. (Words that are especially useful to remember also during those times when my sons do something that drives me up the wall. 😀 )
I suspect that we often think we’re the ones who must teach our children and they must simply drink from our fountains of wisdom 🙂 , forgetting that we often stand to gain so much from what they have to teach us, if we’d only be willing to sit down on the kiddie chair and listen to what they have to impart to us. I think of my children and all that I’ve learned from them, and I will tell you right here, right now, with all humility and honesty: I would be so unschooled in this great business of Life if not for the lessons they have taught me.
I am tempted to go through each one of the many lessons my kids have taught me (often unknowingly), but not all in one blow (so yes, you can breathe now 😆 ). I will just mention the 3 lessons that spontaneously pop into my mind right now.
1. A sense of wonder about everything around them. This constant desire to learn, to reach for more, to understand, all those Why’s… I believe this is the very heart of the laughter of children. None of the jaded “been there, done that” attitude that we seem to acquire with lightning speed when our age turns into double-digits. (I mean, really, aren’t teenagers, wanting to be adults, the masters of that nonchalant attitude? 😆 ) I think if we viewed the world and everyone around us with the same welcoming arms, with an attitude of amazement, with the same excitement and the happiness of discovery, we would be a lot more grateful for the beautiful and good things around us that we often don’t notice as we go about “getting on with life.” Funny how, in rushing to get through our every day, we actually miss out on what Life is really about. The expression Stop and Smell the Roses? I’ll bet it was said by someone watching a kid in a garden filled with rose bushes. 🙂
2. Short-Term Memory. This is a wonderful thing to have especially when one has been hurt. I am embarrassed to admit that there have been times that I’ve lost my temper (thank goodness, not too often–mostly with things that have to do with lying, which for me is a “guest” totally banned from our home). I always end up feeling guilty about losing it; I think lessons are better retained when there’s a lot less noise that comes with the correction. But… I’m human, so help me God, I do have meltdowns sometimes 😦 But everytime after, I go to my children, repentant and remorseful, and they act as though I had no fault of my own and they were the ones completely wrong in the first place. Amazing. Such humility, such forgetfulness, the ability to truly forgive and forget. I think that ability is essential in living a happy, peaceful life, and I’m so glad it’s a trait that hangs around in our home.
3. Docility, that openness and readiness to be taught, to be trained, to learn. I think it takes a whole load of humility to be able to say “teach me, tell me, I want to learn from you.” And together with that, obedience. (For how can we learn without doing?) All those what’s, why’s and more why’s… Our kids ask us a kazillion questions, and they don’t think twice about asking a million more if they aren’t satisfied with our answers. I can’t help thinking that if we sought our God with such doggedness, such perseverance, and such willingness to really listen to him and do what he says, we would surely find him at every corner.
Your turn to think about the lessons you’ve learned from your kids (or, if you don’t have them, from the kids around you). What invaluable things have you learned from them? 🙂