This past week I watched my innocent small child play and interact on the beach – splash in the water, run his fingers through the sand. I also watched him go up to strangers to share their toys, wave, blow a kiss, or just smile. His giggle was contagious. These observations made me really think today as I went back and looked at my vacation photos:
At what point do we as adults lose the ability to offer these kindnesses and just peacefully coexist with each other? Strangers go out of their way to avoid eye contact, everyone feels the need to constantly watch their backs. In all my time working with kids, I have heard “they are our future.” In some way, yes this is true. But it really starts with us. Every single one of us needs to work, really work, on ourselves as humans.
Children are not born with a mental file of hate, judgment, lies, self-loathing, lack of ambition, vocabulary of bad language, unfriendliness, on-going sense of tension and all the other negativity in the world. They learn it from US. We go out of our way to cause hurt, judge others, judge ourselves, make little things into big things, and make things substantially harder than they should be.
I am making a personal goal to be more “on” as a good role model…because this small person is always watching, absorbing everything I choose to do and say. And it really is a choice, which is not always easy to remember. If we all remind ourselves of this, and set a similar goal, perhaps our children’s future will be filled with more smiles, giggles, and hellos rather than averted eyes. Filled with more joy and less struggles. Filled with more confidence and less shame. We can’t expect our kids to just figure it out. We need to guide them. It starts with US.