Encouraging, Enriching and Acknowledging the Joy of Childhood

Fatherhood is a lot of work. There are times where there is no end in sight, and it feels like I won’t spend a minute to myself for the next month on end. Fatherhood, and motherhood, is also a lot of joys.

You hear people say children are a gift, a blessing, a joy. To me, this is true when I can keep the mindset that children are the closest thing to God here on earth. This was said to me early on in parenthood, before parenthood had really even hit. A friend was speaking of his nephew who, as a young toddler of less than two years old, would love to hear the coffee pot gurgle. This friend who didn’t have children of his own said, “kids are the closest thing to God here on earth.”

Whether you believe in God in a Christian, Islamic or Judaism sense, a child is something that can convey a true version of peace and comfort. They can also be a shear terror, screaming inconsolably, don’t get me wrong. But when joy on their face beams because of the simple things, like a coffee pot, a game or just a breakfast cereal, there is something spiritual they bring to the room.

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Our job as fathers and caregivers is to nurture children in this carefree joy as long as possible. With this nurturing, I can only hope that my kids will be able to strengthen this skill and bring it with them into adulthood. As adults, you and I both know the reek of cynicism and ugliness of this words that can saturate the news or daily lives.

Velma Mia Thomas even touches on this in her book Lest We Forget, that even in a world of horrible slavery, parents wished for the joyful world of kids as long as possible:

“Enslaved parents knew all to well what awaited their young; they knew the world of child’s play would come quickly to an end. My people tried to make their children’s early years as joyful as possible. There were berries for the children to pick and songs to sing. There were tales of Br’er Rabbit and ghost stories to learn. There were marbles and jump rope and tag to play.

“And there were times when my ancestors played with the masters’ children—even beat them at games—and no one minded or abruptly changed the rules so that slaves could not win.

“But the rules would change. White playmates would become slaveholders, black children would become slaves.”

Maybe we don’t have slavery as defined by the early United States of America, but we sure have our share of ugliness throughout the world. I choose to believe there are lots of beautiful things out there, too. Start with the looking into the young eyes of your kids. Chances are they see it, and you will, too.