The Wonder of Children

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It’s infectious and permeates my whole being: the innocence, wonder, and creativity I experience from being with my grandchildren.

Just a few days ago, I became a grandfather for the second time. I have experienced many blessings in my life, but almost nothing can compare with the wonder and joy I experience being with my grandchildren.

My oldest grandchild is just two years and 5 months old. A very verbal and particularly joyful child, not only is he constantly filled with wonder himself, but in every interaction with him, he rekindles a sense of wonder in me. When I’m with him, I play like a child, laugh like a child, explore like a child, and I sometimes don’t want to stop. And when I’m away, I find myself taking time out from the stresses of the day to re-savor moments spent “wondering” with him. In those moments, all the stress disappears.

My son and daughter-in-law have done a good job providing a nurturing environment for their children. I like to think that their parents did the same for them. This is definitely edifying. It also causes me to reflect on the many, many cases I’ve encountered over my years of practice as a clinical psychologist in which children’s natural sense of wonder and joy was all but blotted out by the harshness or coldness of their environments. If only all children could be well-nurtured.

Michael Gurian has a book out called The Wonder of Children: Nurturing the Souls of our Sons and Daughters. It’s written from a spiritual perspective but has much to offer parents, no matter what their religious or philosophical persuasion. Ginger Carlson has written a book called Child of Wonder: Nurturing Creative and Naturally Curious Children. It speaks well to the issue of not relying as heavily on mass-produced toys and the electronic “babysitting” of children’s television programs and finding avenues of creative engagement with children.

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I babysit my grandson one day a week. I do this partly to help my children with daycare expenses. And, because I am retired from active practice, I have the luxury to do it. Soon, I’ll be doing the same with my new granddaughter. But the biggest reason I engage in this activity is purely selfish. It’s what I get from it that motivates me. What I get is a deep connection between a beautiful source of innocence, wonder, and creativity and my own inner child. I’m never exhausted at the end of babysitting day, although as anyone with a two-year-old can tell you, I can be run pretty ragged. But the energy that emanates from the encounter is infectious and permeates my whole being. At 62, I’m blessed again with experiencing the wonder of being a child.

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