Childhood innocence is something we need to remember
What happened to us? Children have so many wonderfully innocent and naive traits. It’s these traits that draw us to them. They make us laugh and their purity and innocence is what makes living with children so special. We love to retell their funny stories. But, where does the innocence go? It seems the world has a way of beating and pushing it out of us. I have so often thought about how sad it is that the world imposes all these negative and heart-wrenching traits on us. It has taught us to be selfish and greedy; what is mine is mine. It’s constantly teaching us that there is no time to just ‘be’ and enjoy the moment. We are constantly on the run, on the go!
Are we kind to strangers? Do we say hello to random people and random things? Are we easily excitable? Children have this amazing ability to just see the good, to say hello to everyone and everything, to sing randomly or to hear a song on the radio and break out in a spontaneous dance. Good golly- when last did I do that? When last was I not self-conscious of what people around me might think of me? Where does the belief that our parents are our world and our superheroes go? What happened to Santa Claus and the Tooth-Fairy? Why does growing up mean losing the joys of innocence and falling from trusting our loved ones?
Time often steels our childhood innocence from us
where does it go? Where does that unashamed, unafraid behavior go? Yes, some kids might be shy and, yes, some children (like mine) throw hysterical tantrums for the smallest and biggest things. I often think about my boys’ hilarious tantrums; often, they would ask for something, such as a peanut butter sandwich; I would make it and cut it and the next minute they would be rolling and screaming on the floor because I cut it wrong. They would ask for water, so I would pour the water into the blue cup and then they would have a complete meltdown because It’s not in the orange cup. Yes, I think we can all safely say, thank goodness, as adults we have not maintained the ‘throw yourself on the floor tantrums’.
But let’s be honest, I think a lot of us still throw tantrums, just in different, more ‘socially acceptable’ ways. We fight with our loved ones over the tiniest things; sulk and ignore people when we don’t get our way- or just because we woke up grumpy. Letting others know, just like a toddler. Maybe we not always putting on the display of a toddler but certainly still doing it, just in more manipulative and grown-up ways. Still demanding and act like thunder. We haven’t lost this aspect of childhood innocence so why have we lost the happy-go-lucky part?
Toddlers are friendly and kind, what happened to us.
If they like something, they say it, that childhood innocence follows them around. They don’t overthink giving compliments. There have been many times that a toddler, mine or someone else’s, has told me that they like my shoes, or my dress. When we laugh, they laugh; when we dance, they dance and they sure as anything say hello to everyone and everything, constantly striking up random conversations wherever they go. They say hello to the teller, they greet everyone and everything in their path: ‘Hello man sweeping the street, hello cow, hello lady driving the car.’ The joy of being a child! Toddlers don’t care about their outfits and their chunky fat-rolled thighs.
They don’t care if they talking too loudly and they have food all over their chubby little faces. When did we start caring so much, and why? Why have we become so judgmental and critical of everyone and everything around us? Do you think a child cares if the cushions aren’t straight or if the toilet paper isn’t the direction you like? Are those things really so important? If not, why do these things literally steal our joy and our time? We become self-centered, self-conscious and critical. We become anxious and stressed about things that don’t matter. None of this is to say that we shouldn’t be neat, look after our things or to totally stop caring, but it does mean we need to find what really matters and where the balance truly is.
Looking at ways to bring back that Child in us
A few years ago, I lived in this tiny town where it was common practice to wave at everyone as you drove past, even if you had no clue who they were. My mum was visiting and said to me, “Who is that that you waving to?” and I said, “I have no idea.” It was so funny because she was shocked that we would just randomly wave but as she drove around with me that day, the spirit of friendliness took hold of her and she waved along with me and we laughed and smiled. It brought joy to both of our hearts to wave at strangers.
It was a special little town because not only did they wave, they said hello too. All day, wherever you went, people would just greet each other and smile. It was hard to be grumpy with all the joy floating around. I loved it; I loved the innocent, friendly, happy atmosphere everyone would bring. Wouldn’t it be lovely if it filtered into every town and every heart?
Looking at those around us that we can learn from
My gran was a very special lady and someone I need to think of often. You never saw her without a smile on her face. She made a decision that no matter the day she was having, she was going to choose to have joy. My Gran didn’t live in a dream world and she did have moments and stages of sadness in her life, like us all, but, she chose to have joy and to be kind.
She would say hello to everyone and randomly chat to strangers in the line. People would walk up to her and say, ‘I see you in the shops and you are always so happy.’ She loved this and she made those around her smile, laugh and changed their days too. This too changed her, her decision to be happy made her happy. Her decision to not complain about everything made her happy. She laughed easily and she was lovely to be around. We need to look at others great traits and learn from them.
I think we could adopt these traits too.
We can decide that! Even if we are feeling as if there is a thunderstorm brewing in our heads or if anger is bursting from our hearts or even if negativity is the mantra we carry and the flag we fly- we can decide to smile. We can choose happiness. Today, I will smile and I will say hello to strangers or wave at them in the car. I will tap my foot to the song in the grocery store or even hum along. Today, I will choose to have the innocence of a child, that delightful joy. If you are feeling these emotions, it’s time to start making changes, small and big. Somewhere along the way, we strangely start to believe the lies, believe the negatives of the world, the negatives of us, we maybe pick up jealousy and greed.
Maybe bad things happened to us, which are a struggle to come back from. Yes, often our innocence is stolen, and we cannot unlearn or unseen what we have- but that does not mean we cannot decide to have those childlike joys and happy emotions. We can start reclaiming our freedom from the negatives. We can start looking after ourselves, possibly see a therapist, exercise, eat healthy, get sunshine, take supplements, drink more water, think about our thoughts and choose to change your mindsets and patterns. Yes, the negatives will come because we live in the world, but there is help available, sometimes far closer than we think and know.
Remember, too, that by you having a smile or by you saying hello- you can change someone’s day. You can be a little shining light of joy in the world. Childhood innocence is still yours if you look for it and live by it, even if we live in a difficult world.