We ask our children to grow up so fast. Too fast. We forget that they are children. Our babies, full of innocence that, once lost, can never be recaptured. Why do we rush them so headlong into adulthood? Is it really all that great?
I hear parents (myself included) celebrating growth and maturity and independence, but we rarely pause to just enjoy the fact that our kids are, well, kids.
I volunteer at our local school and at first break I stayed in with the 4/5 class while they ate. I decided to put on a Youtube clip for them and someone asked for "the Duck Song". I was surprised as this is a song my kindergarten child likes. I was sure that the other kids would boo it off the screen. Afterall, these are 'big kids'. These are the kids who are swaggering around the yard, who tell me with great pride about how they can do so much themselves, who are insistent that they don't need help.
I was sitting at the teacher’s desk, facing the computer. After a few moments I noticed that there was silence in the room (well, as near as you get with 20 nine and ten year olds). When I glanced back over my shoulder, I discovered that most of the class had moved up to sit cross legged on the floor behind me. And then, as the chorus kicked in, they began singing along! All them knew the words. No one hesitated to lift their voices in song.
I turned from the screen to watch their faces. I had never seen some of these kids smile before. Grins were going ear to ear. There were giggles. There was laughter. Their faces were quite literally shining with joy.
And I felt like I was the outsider, that I was the one who was missing out. Somewhere, as we grow up, we lose the ability to enjoy a cartoon duck going to a lemonade stand. Somewhere, we get jaded, we get cynical, we get mature. And for reasons I often fail to comprehend, we want our kids to join us in our adulthood as quickly as we can drag them there.
Try as I might, I could not find the humour in the song that moved these kidsto laughs. I became very nostalgic for my own childhood. I missed those days where a funny song, good friends, and time to laugh was all that I needed to be happy.
And I realized that this is something we need to protect, this innocence, this ability to open our minds and hearts to simple things. These 'big kids', well on their way to growing up, facing the teenage years just around the bend, were, for a moment at least, just children again. And I found my own joy in having the privilege to have been there with them in this moment of paradise found again.