I Believe in Innocence
When I was in Martha Fast’s seventh grade English Class, we were known, as a class, to hotly debate anything and everything. Since this was an Honors English class, the vocabulary at our disposal was vast. In the middle of a debate, a classmate accused me of having a “Pollyanna” point of view. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant and had to ask Mrs. Fast. In her Arkansas drawl, she told me that the student meant that I had an innocent or simplistic view. Instead of being insulted, as I am sure my classmate wanted me to be, I was pleased. My folks had worked hard to protect me from the things in the world that I was not ready to deal with. Even at the young age of 13, I realized that if I let go of whatever innocence that my classmate thought that I should have already lost, I would lose something that I could never regain.
Several years later, I was reminded of this thought when I asked, in class, what a particular word meant and was embarrassed to hear the male teacher tell me the meaning of the word “circumcision” in front of my classmates. By this time, I was a junior in High School and thought that I was very grown up and knew almost everything. I did not think that my parents were very smart in protecting my innocence then, but what teenager thinks that his or her parents need to protect them?
I went on to college, met and married the man of my dreams, and set about building a life with him. In time we had two beautiful sons. With their births, I rediscovered that word “innocence” in the wonder and lives of our sons. Once again, I had reason to thank my parents for protecting my innocence for so long but more importantly for giving me a blueprint for prolonging my children’s innocence and thus their ability to see the world through a pure filter for as long as they could. I saw their friends lose their innocence way too early and thus become aware of the bad that is done to others under so many headings.
Now I am a grandmother for the first time and once again, I see the world through the innocence of my granddaughter’s eyes. I pray that I can show her all that is good, inspire her to dream, and hold off the grown up world so that she learns to see the cup as half full and an opportunity instead of an obstacle. The world has changed and there are things to teach her to be aware of that I never had to be aware of but there is still beauty in this world of ours. If we but try, maybe protecting and promoting our children’s innocence instead of trying to have them grow up so fast would give us the leaders to change what we have not been able to change.
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