Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Following a Child's Wonder

I'm a bit slow on the update sometimes.

When did you "rediscover" your sense of wonder at the world? If you're like most parents, your eyes began sparkling at new-fallen rain and your ears began ringing to the tunes of early morning birds awaking to the dawn. Perhaps you walked through the world hunched over, following your toddler around, noticing the yellow brilliance of the daisy and the pungence of freshly mown grass.

Then again, maybe you were like me. I spent those early years of toddlerhood mostly slogging through the days, grateful if I got a shower, if my kids ate something other than peanut butter on a spoon out of the jar, and if we were no more than thirty minutes late to playgroup. I was so busy surviving the challenges of a high-need preschooler while dragging along an unwitting toddler and newborn that the nuances of a sunset or the harmonic shades of an orchestra went entirely unnoticed.

I probably would have liked to have enjoyed them; I just didn't notice.

For me, my reawakening to the wonders of the world didn't come until my kids were old enough to start having real discussions - with me or each other. When they were mature enough to have their own opinions and debate their merits, well, that was when my brain really clicked in.

Wow!, I thought. These kids look at the world in an entirely different light! Where they see crimson or scarlet, I see red. Where they hear rain pattering or bacon frying, I hear static. Where they see rainbows and swirls, I see oil spots on the driveway.

Their creativity has opened by mind to vast possibilities I'd never before thought about. History interesting? You don't say! Geography useful and fascinating? Who would've known! Drama worthwhile? Couldn't have imagined it! Improv mind expanding? No kidding!

Now that my kids are older, my mind expands farther than I ever expected. I used to think that I loved to learn, but my kids have taught me otherwise - I only thought I did. Now I know what loving to learn means. In part, it means opening your mind enough to learn about things that you never thought you were interested in, and being thrilled to find that there was an entire world out there that you'd missed. It means admitting that you don't know much and letting others teach you - others who might not be otherwise seen as likely teachers. It means stretching your views to encompass more than what you believe, to perhaps have your mind changed by lively, enthusiastic, and sometimes even hot-headed debate.

These days my children are the leaders in so many things. I rarely consider myself a teacher. I'm more a facilitator or an enabler ... or a student.

And that's just fine with me.

If you liked this post, you might enjoy What We Give Our Kids.

Photo by gamier20 from here


  1. A compelling case indeed for homeschooling, which for most of us is really just an excuse to redo our own education ...

  2. This is wonderful and so true. One of the things I'm doing with my son, as Hannah puts it in her comment, is redoing my own education.

    It is a huge part of the fun to learn along with my son!

  3. Right now I'm really into the "opening your mind enough to learn about things that you never thought you were interested in, and being thrilled to find that there was an entire world out there that you'd missed" part. I see things so differently now and it's so much fun!

  4. Love this essay, Camille. It is so true about being a parent - re-awakens the wonder about life in you, like never before.