Bottled Energy

August 8, 2009

Thou shalt not think that any male over the age of 30 that plays with a child that is not their own is a pedophile… Some people are just nice. –De Le Sac

 Besides the obvious reasons, pedophiles really piss me off. Particularly in that they ruin much more than the lives of the child victims and all the families involved, but they also contribute to the breakdown of local communities and even society as a whole. We have become so mistrustful of strangers that there is no longer any room for hospitality. Your average male adult cannot take delight in the pleasure of watching children at play without become suspect. God forbid if you actually interact with them! Parents will give you a queer and nervous look and politely usher the little ones off to some other place. And rightly so. I was the same way with my own kids when they were younger; because, it is just not worth the risk.

I remember when I was a child; male and female adults of all ages had the freedom to laugh at, and laugh with, me and my brothers. I admit that sometimes we were creeped out, but most of the time we recognized that they were just being nice, and we saw an adult that we needed to respect because that’s what our parents taught us to do. Instead of grabbing us by the arms and quickly (but politely) running away, my parents would show appreciation that someone was actually enjoying their kids and not being annoyed by them. They stayed close and would certainly watch over us, but instead of acting accusatory, they would often strike up a conversation with the stranger and, in so doing, make a new acquaintance. At times, these strangers would become trusted friends and neighbors. Either way, my parents took the time to find out if the strangers were trustworthy, or if they should be worried. The communities we existed in together got a little smaller and our society grew a little stronger because my parents didn’t run away in fear. At the very least, someone who was perhaps a little lonely received the opportunity to experience the joy of childhood again, if only for a few moments.

If nothing else, is this not what the world needs? To remember the joy of childhood? We live in such an adult central and increasingly sexualized society that, unfortunately, many parents seem to be pushing their children to grow old way too soon. I say “old,” not “up;” growing “up” implies maturity. When you force a kid to enter adulthood too soon, genuine maturity is usually much harder for that child to achieve. Tweens look and act more like teens by the clothes their parents buy them or movies they are exposed to, and teens believe they have the freedom to experiment sexually because they don’t fully understand the consequences and simply aren’t mature enough to grasp the emotional and physical responsibilities of sex. Some parents work so many hours to maintain a higher standard of living that their kids are forced to take care of themselves and consequently they get raised by MTV and Nickelodeon, a winning combination for sure. When I say we need to become more youthful, America’s obsession with the fountain of youth is not what I’m talking about here. I don’t mean we need more plastic surgery, and when a man starts to get pudgy and a little thin he shouldn’t trade his wife in for one of his daughter’s friends to make himself feel a little better. What I’m talking about is recapturing the spirit and innocence of youth. The ability to forgive pretty quickly so you can still have a friend to play with. The ability to look at the world with wonder and amazement. To feel the glory of bugs, butterflies and puppies. To not be afraid of dirt and rain. To be able to sit and, at a the same time, go to a place where we are defeating dragons and conquering kingdoms. To put our fingers in paint and feel the colors as we create new and wonderful masterpieces that we know will get a place of honor on the refrigerator. To not be afraid of strangers; at least when they are the same size as you…

There is a great beauty in the innocence and joy of children, and that innocence needs to be protected, but when we cover up our kids too tightly, we don’t allow their beauty to shine out and affect the world we all exist in together. Similarly, when we give them too much freedom too soon, we do expose them to more subtle dangers. Watching children play and enjoy life, and taking the time to get down on their level and interact with them, brings life and energy to any adult who dares to do so. We often say, “I wish I could bottle their energy!” Well, we don’t really need to. We can drink from the constant flow of their streams of creativity and imagination just by spending time with them. And by spending more time with children, we can begin to lead them into a healthy adulthood when the time is right. A child’s joy and wonder is contagious when we are able to appreciate it. We regain the ability to see the world through their eyes. It becomes magical again. Can we not agree that the adult world needs a little more magic and a lot more faith?

Jesus called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:2-5 (New International Version)

Peter L Richardson
7/24/09 (after watching planes take off at the airport with kids…)


“unexpected wonder”

A dark crowded room.
     Stories in lights against the wall.
We laugh together for the first time in a while.
Stepping out into the warmth of the night
     He talks of stories from the past
          and he asks about the future…
Before I can respond
     The night sky explodes
          in energy, joy,
               and laughter:
There is a symphony of color
     Above our heads;
          rainbow explosions
          sailing bright
          against the darkness.
     Playful fairies
          appear and disappear
          making thunder as
          they move in and out
          of our world.
Awestruck by this unexpected wonder,
     I perceive my child in colorful glows:
          face alive,
               mouth agasp,
     The magic dancing in his eyes…

For the moment I feel it also,
     And I believe in it again,

Peter L Richardson
5/26/04 (leaving the movie theatre with my boys, and finding a surprise fireworks show just over the parking lot)


2 Responses to “Bottled Energy”

  1. chestera Says:

    “To not be afraid of dirt and rain.”
    Amen brother! -Chester of Outdoor Living Skills 2004-2009

  2. Jessica Says:

    and I love this–
    “The ability to forgive pretty quickly so you can still have a friend to play with.”

    I love how kids don’t hold grudges and they truly do seem to forgive and forget and are ready to play again in a moment. I can learn a lot from that.

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