ONCE UPON A TIME ...
in a far .. far distant galaxy . . .
Wally and I attended a Kindergarten Open House for one of our children. While we listened to an older woman, a long-time teacher of munchkins, speak to the group, we giggled to ourselves about the charmingly sweet approach she had…. addressing adults as if we were all kindergarten students. Wally and I decided that communication quirk must occur after years and years of teaching little people…perhaps it’s just the way you finally talk to everyone.
Flash forward 40+ years. Since that time my entire life, professionally as well as personally, has been focused around the care of children. Slowly, the realization has dawned: I am that woman we met so long ago. In fact, I do indeed see and approach everyone I meet as if he/she were 5 years old. Can’t help it. It’s the addled person I’ve become.
But is it really such a bad thing? OK, so I tend to see the world more or less as a huge elementary school, populated by all the typical early childhood personality types:
· Some “children” are sweet, responsive to direction, and willing to play together nicely; others are a little pushy and more in tune with their own agenda rather than what’s best for the group.
· Some are neat and tidy; some walk through life like Pigpen in “Peanuts” cartoons.
· Some are comfortable with whatever the classroom rules dictate; some want to challenge those rules and see how far they can push tradition.
· True, some of these 5-year olds are learning disabled and just can’t seem to fit in or even, perhaps, understand why they don’t fit in.
· Still others are developmentally disabled - perhaps quite severely - and they must be kept from the rest of the children so they won’t hurt others – or themselves. Hopefully, with lots of love and tons of help, they can re-enter the classroom, healed and whole once more.
· And then there are a few children who have chosen to exhibit behaviors that can be dangerous for the whole school; their disorders are more of the heart than the psyche and, apart from intervention by God’s Grace, there may be little hope that they can be trusted to function within a “normal” group of children. Sadly, these children must be isolated and sent to a “special” room where their actions won’t destroy the entire school.
Perhaps, in God's eyes, whoever people are, whatever they have done with their lives, whomever they’ve become, they really are just children. We are just children. You doubt it? Just look at us: We are envious, greedy, messy creatures who want what we want, whether it’s good for us or not. Yet we can be sweet, generous, and kind . . . usually when it suits our purpose. Silly us… All of our instincts are honed to gain approval and love from the people we admire. In the end, what most of us seek in life is to be accepted, to be cherished, to be warm and fed, and to have fun once in a while. Children!
And I think our Father wants all of those things for us as well. However, He would add one big extra. . . that we should love one another as He loves us. And that we should care for all of His children… the sweet ones, the pushy ones, the neat and messy ones, the compliant and rebellious ones, the disabled ones and, yes, even the dangerous ones.
Maybe it's ok to see the world in toddler terms. If nothing else, it helps us see more clearly the need and vulnerability in others. And, grasping that, just maybe we'll play a little nicer on the playground. We might even become a little more patient about taking our turn in life.. no pushing, no shoving. Remember to share. And, for pete's sake, use a hanky!!