On a gorgeous April Tuesday, we got to spend the entire day with one of our oldest, dearest friends, Kelan. (He lives far away, so this was a special treat!) We talked and talked; it was like a pub crawl, only with talking instead of drinking. We talked about life, spirituality, philosophy, our kids, everything. It was one of the best days ever, in my not-very-humble opinion.
Kelan has two adorable little girls. Recently, they’ve begun potty training Anya (she’s the older sister; she recently “turned into three”). This, as anyone who’s ever potty trained, leads to a lot of talk about poop.
On one such occasion, Kelan was telling Anya where different animals poop. She asked about foxes, and he said, “Well, foxes poop pretty much anywhere.”
She looked up at him and asked, in all seriousness, “In the sky?”
Spoken in honesty and innocence and curiosity.
As young children, we don’t assume we know everything. We take delight in learning. We come into the world as inquisitive, investigative beings with an insatiable curious streak. Children learn, they seek, they ask, they taste and test and poke and prod, take apart, and question. They question the rules, they question the norm, they question everything.
Anya, ready to tackle her day.
Their fashion sense is incredible, too. They mix stripes and polka dots, layer colors in combinations that make their parents cringe, wear their pajamas in public, don swimsuits in December with a casuality that boggles the adult mind. As they get a little older, they often style their own hair (and occasionally give themselves haircuts) with wild abandon. And then, with crooked ponytails, bright pink tu-tu, red cape from a Halloween costume six months ago, and mismatched socks, they emerge fully prepared to face the world.
It’s not til after years of being scolded, ignored, snapped at, reprimanded, and conditioned that we gradually stop being so inquisitive, so bold, so freespirited. It takes conditioning to put us in the box so many of us spend the rest of our lives trying to get out of, because we’re inherently rule-breakers at heart.
We can learn a lot from children.
If we stop boxing them in, we can learn how to stop being boxed.