Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Awesome Power to Alter the World in an Instant

When you blow soap bubbles on a playground full of young children, whatever else is happening comes to an end as they are compelled to chase and pop them. It's a universal response, one that I've witnessed on at least three continents. If you catch a bubble on your wand so that it's available for closer study, you must first caution the children not to pop it, yet you still must guard against an impulsive finger or your bubble will be gone in a flash. 

Flocks of birds rarely gather on playgrounds full of young children for the same reason. Individual birds might dash in and out, carrying away one of the tasty morsels that young humans are prone to shed, but if they try to hang around, whatever else is happening, a child will rush at them, sending them back into the trees. If you hang a bird feeder outside your classroom window so that the birds are available for closer study, you must first caution the children not to frighten the birds away, yet you still must guard against an impulsive tap on the glass or your bird will be gone in a flash.

The bubbles are there and then they are gone. The birds are there and then they are gone. When I watch the children's faces, they almost always wear expressions of pure joy as they practice the magic they have learned. It is an extension of the magic they've been learning since the day they were born. 

When I open my eyes it is light.

When I close my eyes it is dark. 

When I cry the big people appear. 

Most adults have forgotten the powerful magic they possess. Someone has long ago explained to us that bubbles don't really disappear or that the birds are just waiting in the trees for you to go away. The older we get, the less magic we are capable of doing unless, of course, we are lucky enough to be important adults in the lives of young children. Then we can once more, with children as our guides, return to the kingdoms that exist under dining room tables. With children we are once more aware of the awesome power we each possess to alter the world in an instant, with the poke of a finger or the drop of an eyelid. This, I believe, is a big part of the reason that virtually all young children are creative geniuses, while virtually none of the adults are.

I'm very clear that having young children in my life makes me not just a better person, but a smarter and more creative one as well. They keep open doors and windows that I would have long ago nailed shut. They remind me of my own magical powers. I'm shocked when someone responds to learning my profession by saying something like, "Oh, I don't do little kids." It's as if they are telling me that they have sworn off joy and magic. 

Everyone should want young children in their lives, yet we live in a world in which its suspect when anyone other than parents or professional caretakers wants to be around them. The result is that most of us live in a childless world from the moment we cease being children ourselves until we have some of our own. And even then, the children so often spend their days in their world apart, in preschools and childcares, where they perform their awesome magic for those of us lucky enough to live with them and no one else. I have this idea that the first employer to place preschool and childcare at the center of their business, will reap the rewards, not just of happier employees, but smarter and more creative ones as well. 

And not only that, but it will replace children and their magic back in the center of life where it belongs.

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