Skip to main content

The World of Children


The world of children is a place of wonder and enchantment.  It is also a place of sweet innocence and the testing of things unknown and scary.

Ingrid is almost 10 now, only a couple of weeks away.  We are into our summer swimming routine at the White Rock Y.  The pool is crystal clear and it’s never crowded when we are there, which is usually right around noon on Saturdays.  Sometimes we go on Sundays, too, same time and hardly anyone is there.  Most families don’t start to arrive until later in the afternoon.  We like the privacy even if it is hot, which is what summer is supposed to be anyway.  Besides, we put on plenty of sunscreen.

Ingrid has steadily learned to swim effortlessly and with great joy.  I put her in classes when she was 2, 3, 4 and 5.  But she really never liked any of them.  The classes were often large and there wasn’t a lot of attention given to any one child.

When she was 6 she took private lessons, which helped build some of her confidence, but the young college girl instructor at the Y was often distracted or in hurry to get through or something, so Ingrid never quite got to where she wanted to be.

So we finally just started working on our own.  Last summer she got her stroke down, learned to tread water, and launched off into the deep end for the first time. 

Now she is learning to dive, which is a little scary, but she is doing great with it.  What she really loves though is jumping into the 9 ft deep end feet first trying to touch the bottom with her toes. 

The first time she tried it I swam out into the middle of the pool not far from the edge.  I told her I wanted to see this great jump and catch all of it.  But I was really there on standby, there for support and secretly, in case she needed me when she first jumped in, even though two lifeguards were only seconds away.

Her small body was going down a long way for her and I knew she might find that harder and scarier than she thought.  Even Dads worry sometimes.

She practiced it over and over but never could quite hit bottom.  Then finally a couple of Saturdays ago she made it and when it happened she came up staring at me in her goggles and screeching, “Poppy!  I did it!”  She was so proud of herself but not nearly as proud as I was.   We high fived in the deep end and in seconds she was jumping again.

I thought of Lewis Carroll’s great line,

“Child of the pure unclouded brow
And dreaming eyes of wonder!”

Those simple achievements of children, those little moments of proving oneself and meeting what seems like such an important challenge to them, are the beautiful times of childhood that win our hearts and remind us how self esteem is birthed.

Whether we are 9 or 90 the conviction that we are loved fills us with a sense that we matter.  We can face almost any challenge, we can step off into the scary deeps, we can dig down and find our courage, when we know we are loved.

We cannot do more for our children than this.
 
Oh, we can give them a comfortable home, the latest things their age is wearing, toys and computers and their own TV, an iPhone and private school and stuff galore. 

But what breathes health into their developing psyches, what infuses them with feelings of worth, what causes them to say I can do this—is nothing more than our loving embraces, our trust in their divinity, our celebration of their individuality, our joy in their presence.

When we do this openly, honestly, caringly, consistently, they blossom into human flowers and their beauty brings us to tears and gratitude and to a love we were all meant to know.

© 2012 Timothy Moody

Popular posts from this blog

The Light in the Faces of Our Incredible Human Family

National Geographic Journalist Paul Salopek is walking across the world on foot to trace the pathways of the first humans who wandered out of Africa in the Stone Age to claim the earth as theirs. His journey will cover 21,000 miles and is estimated to take 10 years. He is four years into his massive expedition and already he has discovered that humanity is mostly kind and generous, welcoming and caring, hard-working and disciplined.
I watched a brief piece about Salopek’s journey on the PBS News Hour this week. I have included a link below.
What is extraordinary about his adventure is his realization that in spite of all the wars and turmoil across the globe, he has learned that “The world is an incredibly hospitable place.” In following the ancient trade route called “The Silk Road,” Salopek has gotten to know a variety of people young and old. And though he has so far encountered a few dangerous situations where he had his water supply stolen, was once ambushed by raiders, and was sho…

Our National Lack of Self-esteem

There is a brokenness in our society, a pervasive moral collapse, a reckless disregard for community, neighborliness, courtesy, and compassion.
Our government leads by this example. Both parties are incompetent to guide us into a more responsible living, into a serviceable structure of humanity. Our leaders are dominated by greedy oligarchs who don’t just want more, they want everything, even if it costs our society its dignity, its soul, even its future.
What is on display here daily is a wretched lack of self-esteem. The loss now influences all of us. We’re all affected in ways that keep us shamed by our actions.
When we feel powerless, aimless, without any higher goals than the accumulation of things and the momentary thrill, we then mute our intelligence. We live by raw emotions—anger, appetite, urges. We don’t think, we don’t consider, we merely react. We push. We disregard. We threaten. We act out. And we fail.
Self-esteem is a learned process. It builds on genuine successes that ar…

Is the Soul Solid, like Iron?

Mary Oliver has a beautiful little poem in which she asks:

“Is the soul solid, like iron?
or is it tender and breakable, like
the wings of a moth in the beak of the owl?”

It is both.

The soul, we are told by philosophers, theologians, and mystics, is our essence, the permanence of our true self. It is that part of us that lives beyond death. Or so we are taught by religion. Where exactly the soul exists beyond that, has of course, been long debated.

There are times in life when something deep within us is, as Mary Oliver says, solid as iron and we operate out of some sense of aliveness, confidence, and inner strength. It may be fleeting, but there when needed; or it may carry us through long periods of endurance when we build a sturdy self, confident and capable of our abilities and talents.

This is the work of the soul. This is a part of our spiritual development. This is what enables us to believe there are forces in life, loving and generous and mystical, that nurture and compel us tow…