I love a child’s capacity for utter abandonment in all they do. When they play, sing, dance, sleep, they are completely themselves. A child doesn’t learn pretense until someone shows them how it’s done.
When we tell a child they should be better, be different, be our expectation of them, we are changing them, inhibiting them. When we don’t accept them for all they are, we are asking them to hold back a little of themselves. We lose that glimpse into their souls. We lose their spontaneity and ‘joie de vivre’.
I’m not saying we have to let them behave badly or that they can get away with everything in order to prevent containing them. No, bad behavior is also learned and needs to be addressed and modified.
However, children are different than us, meant to be different. So, when they run and play, yell and imagine, they are creating a child’s version of life. I envy that about them but I also know it must be hard for them to maneuver in our world. When you have a total inability for pretense and you’re trying to live in a world of rules and norms created for adults, well, what do we expect.
Sometimes they stumble, make gaffes, inappropriate responses to every day situations. We are expecting children to know the rules before they even understand the world has rules. And, along the way, we are teaching them the art of pretense.
Children are so adaptable. They emulate those around them. Sure, there are genetic predispositions, inborn traits, but they are also sponges soaking up their environment. And what do they see when they are around us. Do they see uninhibited love and joy or do they see us putting on masks and conforming to our environment.
Why don’t we make a point of embracing the child’s point of view every once in a while. Let’s try living in their world sometimes, adapting to their rules and customs. I wonder if we’ll find out who’s really and truly living life.