Geography

It is easier to build up a child that to repair an adult. ~ Author Unknown

Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them. ~ Richard L. Evans

In an interview that is quoted in the Los Angeles Times obituary for “Where the Wild Things Are” author Maurice Sendak he explained why he was able to relate so well to children when he had none.  He replied, “We’ve all passed the same places.  Only I remember the geography, most people forget it.

The recollection of being a child can remind us most intimately of the feelings we had when we were small and powerless.  The memories of being cherished can warm our souls.  Lacking those feelings of being cherished we can still imagine how it might have felt, in order to express that to the children in our lives.  Recalling innocence and wonder allow us to relate as Mr. Sendak did to the youngest among us, and opens that window in our soul to a purer part of ourselves.

Many fight the demons of thoughtless words and actions heaped upon them over a long and painful childhood.  Would anyone choose that legacy for their child?  To leave a child’s simple joyous nature mostly intact is a worthy goal.  Perhaps taking our direction from the Hippocratic Oath, “First do no harm”, is an excellent start to the guidebook of parenthood.

Scanning the shelves of the hundreds of books on parenting, the dominant theme is regulating the child in some way; behavior, diet, sleep patterns; the list is endless and numbing.  What I haven’t found is the geography of childhood, the map of marvels and discovery.  It is assumed that a parent must love their child to buy one or ten of these books, and that is likely so.  But rarely is a parent encouraged to become small again in their hearts and souls to recall the impact of the very bigness of the grown-up world and the ofttimes dramatic consequences of adult words and acts.

Recalling our own geography and using it to chart the course of  parenting, teaching, mentoring and all other interactions with children rewards both the adult and the child.  With careful attention we can raise adults who are not just survivors of their childhood but have the well of feeling cherished to draw upon.

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