Listen to the children…

It takes a 4 year old to get it right…

My friend’s son asked her this yesterday: ‘Mummy, why do people think Muslims are mean just because there were some mean ones in Paris? Sometimes people are mean but it doesn’t mean everyone will hurt people! I think grown ups are so silly!’

Young children often say amazing things that adults find difficult to cope with because young children don’t judge others the same way adults do. They haven’t learnt to hate. They just say what comes into their heads which is what this little boy did.

Young children often say the things adults just don’t seem to understand. Children understand the world in a completely different way from adults and what they say is their way of trying to make sense of what they see and hear. My own kids did it when they were little. They often said things that made me think and wonder, in awe,  at the simplicity and innocence of children. If those of you who are reading this blog don’t have any children of your own, listen to your nephews and nieces, your grandchildren, your friends and neighbours’ children and you’ll see. Young children see life differently. It maybe more simplistic than the way we, as adults, see it but maybe their simplicity is the key to solving a lot of what is going wrong in the world at the moment.

Take race and religion and ethnicity and gender and disability. Small children just don’t see it the same way adults do. If you actually take the time to watch a group of three and four year olds playing together they just see each other as fellow children. They couldn’t care less about what ethnicity the other children are or what religion they follow or what gender they are or whether they have a wheelchair or crutches, all that matters to them is what they are playing with and can they join in.

When my older daughter was just four years old I took her to an anti-apartheid rally with a friend of mine and her four year old. The two little girls loved it and danced and sang and laughed and had fun all afternoon, without a care in the world. And other people watched them with tears in their eyes. Why? Because my daughter is white and has blonde hair and big blue eyes whilst my friends’ daughter is mixed race and takes after her African father for her looks and skin tone. They couldn’t have cared less, they just wanted to play together and enjoy themselves because it was a nice sunny day and they were in the park and there was music and they were together.  

Perhaps we should listen more closely to what children say, maybe they have it right and we, adults, have it wrong. Maybe we should follow their lead.

My hope is that all the amazing children, like my friends’ son, will grow up to be amazing, caring adults. If they do then the world will be safe. These children are the world’s future. We must all love them, and care for them and teach them right from wrong but, most importantly, we must listen to them too. Maybe, if we just do that they will amaze us by exactly how profound they can be. Maybe we need to acknowledge that they might just have it right and that we have it all wrong.

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3 comments
  1. Claire Martin said:

    We get old and cynical or used to trotting out the same old excuses. Children challenge our thinking and force us to confront truths because we have to justify them and explain them. Good post, Poppy.

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