I have been told repeatedly during my Catholic school years that, “Jesus loved children.” I have never given any serious thoughts to this except just agreeing. Who wouldn’t?! Children are cute little creatures that look like us but in a much cuter physique. They are like the *SD model of our favourite cartoon characters with non-proportionately large head with chubby cheeks. When they are at their best behaviours, who wouldn’t love them!!
Well, with years of experience as a mother, I have long realised that children are never always at their best behaviours, and therefore are not always loveable!! So, why are they so special?
Again, blessed with some mothering experience, I have been lucky enough to discover, besides their adorable physical features, little children have many remarkable qualities, some of which have unfortunately faded away as we grow up. The qualities that, if developed and applied in the right way, are the most valuable qualities for our whole life.
1. Curiosity: Children are curious. They want to know everything. They want to learn new things. They don’t care how difficult it is. They don’t fear asking stupid questions. They are willing to experiment. They don’t fear failing. They simply want to know and they MUST find out. We adults think we know better. Yes, in most cases we know better not to do things that will be dangerous. But, aren’t we sometimes too cautious and miss out so many new learnings?
2. Open-mindedness: A lot of people say children are like a blank sheet of white cloth. They are open to learn new things without predispositions, without prejudgements, without biases. They are so ready to absorb new experiences. You can see that in their wide, innocent eyes. When they pay attention to what you tell them, you can see through those eyes how ready they are to be filled with words and ideas that you are putting in their head. The risk is they never know whether those things are actually good stuff or poison. We adults have built some version of filters to protect our brain and mind from poisons. Yet, are those filters sometimes too protective and we end up screening out a lot of great stuff with our own subjectivity?
3. Honesty: Babies cry when they are hungry. They scream when they have discomfort. Toddlers think out loud without fearing what they say would be inappropriate. They do whatever they have to in order to communicate their needs and wants. As a mother, the best honesty I love and cherish the most from my little kids was when they told me they loved me, not because it was something I wanted to hear but because it was the purest and truest words. You don’t have to be afraid they tell you lies because you just know they don’t. If all adults have the honesty of the little children and the subtlety to communicate it in an assertive manner, this world will definitely be a better place.
4. Hope: I remember as a girl I loved to imagine growing up to be a teacher, then a businesswoman, then a diplomat, etc. The list was endless. There was never once I told myself I couldn’t. It was always just that I changed my mind and I preferred to do something else. Even the sky was not the limit. In the process of growing up, we all learn our limits, or we create them I’m not sure. We’ve lost a lot of hope and faith along the way. What if we keep the hope and balance it with the practical perception of reality? The list of our achievements will be quite a lot longer, don’t you think?
5. Living the Moment: With limited experience, little children don’t know what the future may bring. That limit allows them to live in that current moment. When they are happy, their heart is truly filled with joy. When they are sad, they cry so hard because they can’t see how the sorrow will fade away with time. When they feel something, they feel it to the extreme. They are so full of energy to do just the thing they want to in that moment. They put all their heart and body in what they do. It’ll be so much better if we adults can just save our energy from our fear and expectations and put all into what we are doing…in this moment.
I personally find these qualities so essential that we should never lose them in the process of growing up. Instead, we should hold on tight and learn a better way to use them in our life. We balance out the reckless part of these qualities with what we’ve learned through more time spent in this world. That’s why we don’t “change” from being a child to an adult but we “grow”. We make use of what we have and make them better with experiences. Someone should never be merely a bigger, more experienced version of their young self, but a wiser version, too.
*SD – Super Deformed
**Photo credit: with courtesy from my lovely customer, Khun Tim