The world looks at me, a scared (but assertive!) eighteen year old, and sees me as an adult. It expects me to make rational decisions. Now. This instant! Go go go. It calls me to be productive at all times, forever reaching for perfection, for success, for money and fame. I must be mature, goal-oriented at all times, trimmed, and cut. Oh, and don’t forget the sophisticated vocabulary and the know-how and what-know about everything from golf to politics. Because. No budding adult can go astray with these.
But that’s where the world is wrong. In fact, it has completely got it up-side-down. Because. It’s all about the kids, man.
Kids. Everything they are just astounds me.
They love to love. They find excitement in everything. They gratefully accept even the little things. They see adventure in everything. And they are so much smarter than we give them credit for. I believe in kids. In the midst of a world filled with rush-hour traffic, endless bills to pay, fancy cars, and broken marriages, I trust (I know) that it is because of child-like compassion and purity that everything won’t disintegrate into meaningless things.
This realization really hit me on day 3 or so of this summer church camp I was put in charge to teach last year. I was getting really frustrated because the group leaders were all completely drained from late night bowling or something ridiculous like that and I had a hard time controlling 200-something kids. Needless to say, my lesson sounded like somebody grabbed my words, bent them, wet them, then threw them at the kids. Obviously, the kids didn’t respond too well. I was just really disappointed and I felt horrible that a whole day out of five was wasted because of my lack of preparation/energy/enthusiasm/whatever. So I was sorrowfully hugging the kids good bye when this adorable little brown, brown boy with big, pure eyes came up to me, gave me a big hug, said very honestly, “that was a great lesson story”, and smiled. The world came crashing down on my while I struggled not to burst out in tears. A six-year-old holds very magical words.
I bet I used to be like that. Some time before the massive pressure of college admissions, before car accidents from my lack of driving skill, before boy problems, grades, and tests. Forget worldly success, when I grow up, I want to be a kid.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.