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A matter of taste

Every now and then you run into someone who expresses a hatred for kids. “So glad they are theirs and not mine.” “Don’t know why anyone would have kids.” “Why would I have kids? Dogs are a lot less trouble.” Every time I hear one of these statements or many others, I cringe and think about how much that person is missing.

It’s always possible that these are folks who were unable to have kids and/or partners with whom to raise them. While I understand the habit of dismissing or insulting that which we can’t have, I still cringe but always hold my tongue.

What’s wonderful about kids? They are color and handicap-blind. They want uniqueness while finding reasons to do those actions that are similar to those of neighbors and friends. They have a remarkable selective memory for faces and names while they forget directives delivered as much as a minute ago.

Very often I am glad that some people aren’t parents and wish that some who are had stayed with dogs. These are the dispassionate or misguided adults who ignore, mistreat or otherwise harm children. Victims such as these are easily identified – they are needier, more likely to cling to an attentive adult and illuminate the room when recognized for an accomplishment.

Kids frequently present me with gifts that they have created. These are notes, drawings, fortune-teller toys, stickers or bracelets. For reasons that I don’t fully understand, I have saved all of them and they occupy large folders on my office bookshelves. The specific donor is not important. What matters is that I notify all my generous students that I cherish and maintain all of their gifts.

Where do our children learn that it is gratifying to gift to others? In some cases, my students are from families with insufficient resources to provide numerous toys or clothes. But they all understand that something handmade is special and precious, offering their creations to a grateful teacher.

What really is wonderful about kids? The youngest have no filters whatsoever and tell you whatever is on their minds. While this is a practice that may not work well in the adult world, for me it is just fine. And so, my collection of gifts continues to grow. Shalom.

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