I love my little second cousin. For more than just the obvious reasons: being adorable, blood-related, etc.
I love her also because she brings out the kid in me. She’s at the rare stage, especially in this technology-obsessed world, where for the most part she hasn’t really caught up on tech, which is great. It means she can truly fulfill her duty of being a true kid– to learn, play, and explore without any technological inference. We laugh and have a great time together, play hide-and-go-seek, explore, run around, pick flowers, play tag in my grandma’s backyard. All without technology. Back in my day (yes, that cliche expression was going to pop up sooner or later in this article), kids didn’t sit on tablets. They weren’t pecking away at their dumbphones (sorry to all smartphone owners out there– myself included) like the way a glassy-eyed chicken pecks at a small granule of corn. Heck, half the time they weren’t even glued to the tube. The most tech I had growing up was my Gameboy, my DS, and my old-fashioned MP3 player; that was it. Other than that, I explored. I played, in my own, strange little sense. I read, wrote, daydreamed up terrific stories in my little kid brain that I never, ever shared with anyone but God (because seriously… who else is a natural at mind-reading in the real world??); in fact, when walking around the playground cooking up fabulous stories and concoctions in my noggin, kids would sometimes call out to me, asking what I was doing, or what I daydreamed about, I always responded, “It’s a secret.” (Although, granted, someday… those secrets may or may not yet be unleashed… at least, a little bit. 😉 ) I also crafted when bored, a habit long instilled into me as a child thanks to two certain, highly creative babysitters; this formed within me the desire to MAKE things. I loved Woodshop, love cooking, love sewing (although I don’t get the chance to do it often) because of that. And that is why childhood should be so important to us, even as adults.
For one thing, when you interact with kids, whether you actually have kids, teach kids, or are just around them from time to time, DON’T– I repeat, DON’T– force them to grow up fast, ESPECIALLY the little ones. They already sprout like young trees, life is short as it ’tis, and it’s 100% true what they say– you’re only a kid once. So why try to cruelly snatch that away from them? They can still learn some important things, sure, but remember, they obviously don’t get EVERYTHING. And playtime, crafttime, and zone-out (daydreaming) time is really, really important, too. Treat them as important, but don’t treat them as adults. It breaks my heart to see school systems starting to do this already (treating them as though they’re older children, at the least) to kids (another reason that I will be homeschooling my future kids), not to mention the fact of kindergartners, 1st graders, and so on talking about who-likes-who already, when they should really be at the stage of learning, playing, growing, and developing friendships with their peers. Childhood is something that ought to be deeply cherished, not tossed out the window in such a rash manner.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should all be like Peter Pan and literally never grow up. I know that some fully grown adults still live in their parents’ basement, and whine and fuss and act like they’re never gonna get any older emotionally or mentally (which is definitely not a good thing.). There are perks to being mature (well, sometimes.). BUT kids could all teach us a thing or two about life.
We adults sometimes have that whiny, bratty impatient little side of us that never grows up, that often comes out when we’re having a bad day, or if one’s in NYC and experiencing road rage (definitely then.). But not all kids are like that, and at times I think they’re even more patient than we are. During my Easter break, my little second cousin was watching me anxiously from the mouth of my grandmother’s garage, where I and my relatives were ooing and ahhing over a in-great-condition older car that grandma and dad had hung onto for a while and were heavily considering selling, dancing around antsily. I could tell she really wanted me to play with her, but to my surprise, when I came over to her, she asked if, when I was done looking, could I play with her? I responded with a gentle yes, and her reaction astounded me. Not only did she have the politeness and patience to wait until we were done looking (antsy as she was), she patiently waited until I also got my jacket on and finished talking to my fellow adults– not at all an easy feat for a four-year-old, but her politeness and patience would’ve definitely put all those whiny, impatient road-ragers to pure shame. We spent the rest of the evening just playing, running about and even exploring a little– just having a grand old time together. I even told her about about how my grandma’s yard used to look back when I was her age, to her interest (yes, you can get kids that little interested in that sort of thing, as long as you keep it all in fairly simplified terms.).
My little second cousin’s personality and behavior, especially then, reminds me oh-so-clearly of the behavior and humility that Jesus Himself calls us to possess: to be like a little child. Trusting, but not too naive. Ever faithful. Sweet-tempered, joyful in all we do. Just loving others, without all the little, but many, complicated bits thrown in. Kids don’t care about complicated stuff, they just want to enjoy life, live it to the fullest, and, if they were raised to know Him, love Jesus. I think we all could learn this deeply valuable lesson from them.
One thing I recall quite clearly about my childhood, no matter which family member may tell you otherwise, was that the first thing I wanted to do upon meeting Jesus in person was to run up to Him and give Him a huge bear hug. Just because.
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.” Matthew 18:1-5