Thinking and acting like a child. When this topic cruised across my brain early this morning, I will admit happily that I thought about it simply in terms of its positives. As my dozing was broken by the sounds and feelings of a child crawling into the bed beside me, those thoughts stayed with me. Now, an hour or so later, I realise that there are at least two sides to this.
I’ve never felt comfortable when I read a particular Biblical passage (1 Corinthians 13:11): ‘When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.’ It made it seem that all that was childish was bad, at worst, or to be discarded anyway, at best: we’d learned lessons (mainly from adults) and having absorbed those lessons, we graduated to the ‘adult way of life’. Yet, why so often do adults say “I wish I were a child again”? They have recollections of often smiling and laughing and regret that somehow that happened less as they grew up? I thought about play–what it teaches; that it’s mostly fun; that it’s good for health; that you do it with friends, etc. I remember my first-born coming to my office one day and after a while asking “When do you go out for recess?” I explained that we did not have recess. “Well, when do you get to play with your friends?” she asked. Good question, I thought. My mind wandered to sitting in bars, drinking and laughing; dancing and eating at parties; etc. They were not daily events, and like play dates, often had to be planned and then often were not repeated for a while. Was being a grown-up really fun?
I also started to think about some less pleasant aspects of being childish: so many people much bigger than you; so many things around you that are not understood; tantrums when you get frustrated; falling down for no apparent reason and getting bruised and cut; dealing with adults who ‘just don’t understand’; etc. In those circumstances, not being a child and getting to the adult world of ‘full understanding’ or ‘being equals’ seemed like it was worth striving for. However, little do children know that all of that is still there to face them when they grow up 🙂 How cruel life can be!
I read a few stories this morning about children abused by adults: innocence betrayed. I felt hopelessness. I saw a video about a parent dealing with an under-age teenage daughter who was pretending to be an adult. I felt fearfulness. I quickly remembered that being a child was not all fine and dandy, or happy-go-lucky, or nothing to care about.
But, I want to claw my way back to some of the good childish thoughts and ways. I want to have fun bickering about ‘who has the bigger half’. I want to wear a silly hat that has cans of water on it, and a tube from which I can drink. I want to see a child enjoy putting frosting into a doll’s hair, then pretending that it is shampoo. What is wrong with hanging spaghetti from your eyelids?