Watching my baby daughter grow from the period of "helpless infancy" toward her present buoyant and patently individual little personality has been a unique experience. My feeling is best described by a thought contained in a recent issue of The Readers Digest, that the best means of adult education is our children. This struck me as being a truism that is so obvious, and yet as obviously overlooked. It seems to be one of those natural provisions of circumstance that gets trampled under the heavy-footed and false concepts of reality whose stagnant half-truths too often obstruct the vision of adulthood.
Throughout the years we spend growing toward maturity, toward a place in the sun, we are challenged again and again by that pristine faith in the goodness and purpose of life with which we were blessed as children. In many cases there remains enough of that dynamic flow of youth-spirit which preserves imaginative qualities, trust in others, optimism and enthusiasm for life which children naturally possess, so that as adults they become outstanding in their pursuits. They quietly become effective influences in the steady progress that humankind is making toward the achievement of a greater good.
There is real joy in seeing the potential of a child developing. It has been a revelation to see the guiding hand of Nature co-operate with the determined will of an individual mite pressing forward toward conscious expression. We see the child as a mirror reflecting the strength or weakness of our own capacity for patience and courage and related qualities which have inspired spunk, or the persistence to achieve.
Something happens, though. Somewhere along the way the darklings called Prejudice, Fear, Selfishness and their allies creep in and distort our outlook. We become an expression of these things to the extent that they are absorbed by our psychological and mental equipment. The result is, of course, an unperceived play of these influences on our children. Because they trust us, and in their perplexities look to our answers for accuracy and satisfaction, and to our example for their behavior patterns, we cannot fail to recognize the depth of our responsibility. If we could but retain that original drive which enabled us to master the skills of talking, walking, reading, and all the basic avenues of expression and learning, we should always be certain of making fairly good use of our heritage and reflect to our children that which they need.
The way a child innocently teaches us who must teach in return is a cycle — like that of the rose which, having the innate purpose to mirror perfect beauty, attracts the help of outside powers for its growth and maturity, then reflects its beauty back upon itself. As there is truth in the beauty of a rose, so there is in the simple purities of childhood. "Except ye become as little children" . . . unless we, as parents, strive to preserve the qualities of virtue and keep alive the capacity of discovery and instinctive unselfishness that we are born with, how can we expect to unfold our inner longings for greater effectiveness as members of the human family.
One night not long ago my little girl looked up at the yellow crescent in the blue-black velvet sky and said, "Look! Moon is rocking!" To her that reflected moon section was suggestive of her rocking chair. To me it was a beautiful expression of that quality of imagination that links all things in a single tapestry. The child mind had spontaneously demonstrated instinctive knowledge of the way that life is — a unity of diverse beings in an endless effort toward better conditions; a never-ending coming into being of that which lies at the heart of all things — Divinity. Why do we lose sight of these things? They surround us, even as do the little children who liberally, though unconsciously, express them.
Tonight, as my daughter toddled off to bed, my thoughts became a prayer trailing after her: "Become refreshed, little heart, for Mother eagerly awaits the lesson you bring tomorrow."
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