CANDY ALLAN: Maintaining a sense of awe
“Boy, it’s really green out here!”
My daughter paused a moment to take in the sight of the woods, brown three days ago, now erupting into a profusion of greens, from the floor to the canopy.
Then she laughed and took off chasing the dog between the trees.
Soon enough, both daughter and dog looped back to the trail where my husband and I were walking.
“I like green better than brown, don’t you?”
It was a fly-by comment, tossed out just before she ran off on the other side of the path.
I sometimes wonder if I’m doing a good enough job at getting my children to appreciate the world around them. And sometimes I think I must be doing something right. It’s the eternal seesaw of parenting, isn’t it?
When they were younger, I used to take the kids on walks with me. We’d stop to look at flowers or listen to birds, and even occasionally make a leprechaun sighting or two on a March day.
Now, my son prefers to head into the woods with his friends or alone. He doesn’t join the daily walk very often any more. My daughter, on the other hand, will eagerly agree to “join us” and proceed to disappear almost immediately, reappearing at random along the way.
I think they still enjoy the outdoors. I hope they appreciate nature. But I also hope they don’t lose the joy they had in discovery when they were small.
A friend recently shared a couple quotes with me by biologist and writer Rachel Cason:
“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. … If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength.”
And the following, also from Carson:
“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”
It’s important to give our kids a sense of something larger than themselves, of a mystery to the universe. Remembering there’s a great big world out there full of mystery, of magic, of beauty and of awe helps you keep in mind that your way isn’t the only way; it’s a safeguard against becoming narrow-minded and small in your thinking.
The sense of wonder Carson mentioned can manifest itself in several ways — perhaps kids will grow up to become scientists who aim to unravel the mystery. That’s fine, because I have faith scientists will only continue to find more questions.
Perhaps they will simply stand and stretch as they look out the window at a sunrise and appreciate the beauty.
And just perhaps, they will grow up to be parents who show their children the magic in the world around them.
Let’s be honest, I’ve been making up this parenting thing as I go along ever since my son was born. I know there’s more experienced parents out there and folks with different ideas. Respond to my column by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you might see your thoughts in print in an upcoming issue of the Pioneer.