Friday, June 24, 2011

In the Gardens of Children

I am passionate about kids. They are born richly imbued with genius and knowledge of strategy development. They think outside the box, with the speed of fresh innate intelligence and they are eager and curious and expectant toward life. Oh, yes, and they are extremely proactive.

They watch us. Adults we call ourselves. Parents, Mommy and Daddy, we proudly, and glibly announce our roles in their lives. They love us. Passionately. In the most authentic interpretation of the word 'love' they are incredibly loving. They actually ingest more nonsense and misinformation from us than we would ever tolerate from them... or a colleague... and they spend endless hours on developing strategies to establish rapport and dialogue for they did not come into this world to make trouble, they didn't come into the world to be a headache or a problem; they came in to contribute to a world full of joy, play, and enterprising.

You must admit, it has to be a shock. Nonetheless, children are enterprising. They take in our words and behaviors, they study them, and us, discern which are authentic and which are not, then astutely innovate ways to bring us back on track; yes, sometimes they make a fuss but that, too, is a strategy and they picked it up after they were born. Where do you think they learned it?

In my latest journeys, a young child of friends sought me out as I sat alone in a field. The child wanted to talk about some scary things and I had demonstrated that I was a different kind of listener than most adults. After a few minutes the child said, "I don't think parents are very bright. They don't think things through, they only think about things from their point of view. Everything has to be their way. We don't matter."

It was an observation said without blame, spoken with deep passion, and compassion, and it was an open-ended observation that invited me into dialogue. The child also asked me not to share our conversation with the parents and my promise gave the child noticeable relief and ease in speaking freely. New color came into the face. The eyes seemed brighter. The voice had a healthy lilt. Ultimately, the child had forty minutes of free air space, zero performance expectations and therefore that complete refreshment that comes with freedom, the chance to exchange thoughts and consider them, no right or wrong, living the moment, growing with the moment, leaving things loose and fermenting, no need to put a rosy ribbon around the box.

 I was reminded of many things by this child. Trust, the sacred trust
we come into this world with. Authenticity, the safety and certainty of coming from authenticity. Innocence, the unbending genius
of innocence. Insight, the strength and precision of real insight. Timelessness and the sublime nourishment - body, mind and spirit - of living in now.

A child does not care how rich their parents are. They are not interested in how important a job Mommy and Daddy have. They want to know - without words - that they matter. And, just as Mommy and Daddy demand to be heard at work, just as they demand those five or ten minutes to lay out their innovative ideas to management in the hopes of making a difference, qualitatively and quantitatively, so does a child want to be heard, so does a child want to contribute their own innovative strategies in hopes of making a difference, brightening the lives of their parents as they grow into their own, charting their own course and then navigating their soon-to-be new world.

I encourage adults to watch children and study their innate competencies for strategy building, compassionate mediation and brainstorming. They did not come into the world with the intent to raise havoc, on the contrary, being unmanageable is most likely mirroring some form of untenable situation in the adult world. Could be something as simple as using the wrong words and therefore miss-communicating. Could be more complicated like infidelity, lies, biases, social influences regarding sex, color, religion. Children haven't mastered the armoring techniques adults have acquired over time, they respond instinctively, intuitively.

                                                                Watch. Notice. Listen.
                                                         Discover the smart strategies.

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