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The Well-Hidden Wisdom of Children

Our favorite family ice cream stop is the Pied Piper Creamery. Tucked away in Berry Hill, one of Nashville’s quirky business districts, the PPC expanded from the original that has blessed East Nashville for years. With flavors like Baklava, Pancakes, Halepeño, or Red Velvet Elvis, we always taste four or five before deciding which to order.

Last week was fall break for the kids, so we made an afternoon run to the PPC for what is probably our last ice cream outing of 2011 (I got two scoops: Baklava and Mocha). On our way home the sun hovered bright and low over south Nashville’s hilly spine, and from the back of the minivan my ten-year-old daughter said:

“Hmmmm, what a beautiful sunset on a cloudless sky.”

To which my eight-year-old son proclaimed with gusto:

“The perfect time to watch a horror movie!”

I’m laughing now, even as I type it–it was so incomprehensible. Then my daughter asked:

“What’s that about?”

We were all wondering.

This is part of the magic of children. Though they see differently, they see clearly. In fact, you could argue that they are sharper and more aware than we old-timers at five, or six, or seven times their age. Where our minds are cluttered with habits, fears, plans, and presumptions, they are blessedly unencumbered by life experience. That’s why finding your “inner child” is not a quaint notion to simply disregard. It sounds hokey, but I re-learn how to live when I listen to my kids. They have things I lack. They are more honest, more transparent, more spontaneous, and more needy than I allow myself to be.

So, what was Jonah talking about? Why was that the perfect time to watch a horror movie? Here’s what he said:

“Because it is so beautiful outside that you wouldn’t be scared.”

When he’s 16, do you think he’ll still acknowledge his fears with such careless ease? What about when he’s my age, or yours?

When you spend time with children, whether they are yours or not, look for ways that you aren’t like them. They are our model for the charge Jesus gave his disciples in Matthew 18: “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.”

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