Friday, September 21, 2012

The Wisdom of Children

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When I was but a wee lad lacking basic common sense, I once stuck my finger in one of those old ice crushers. I was fine. Just a little bleeding, no harm.

What was my excuse? Nothing. I was a boy. Boys do things that seem interesting, which are not always the smartest things.

So why do I have the same tone of voice when I see our mini Cooper getting ready to do something potentially dangerous and say “Be careful,” no matter if he’s just splashing sticky Sprite out of a big glass over his baby sister Penny’s head, or standing on top of a 20-foot ladder wearing a cape and yelling “Geronimo!?”

My guess is that it is the same emotions that parents have given in to through the years: exhaustion, frustration and the desire to keep everyone happy or stop whining.

That’s why when I have both my kids in my lap and trying to keep Penny from crying or pulling Cooper’s hair out, I’m far more prone to give in to her desire to play with anything she wants, including the Baby Einstein My First Sharp Object.

Yes, sometimes kids say something that yanks at the heartstrings. But they will also eat dirt and laugh at the smell of their own burps.

So why do we give kids credit for more wisdom than they deserve? Is it our desire to be child-like?

In 1 Corinthians 13:11, Paul writes that “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

It’s not just the youngest kids, either. I can only roll my eyes when politicians trot out teens and college kids for votes. When it comes to listening to the young’uns to set public policy, Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online puts it this way:

“Youth politics are the cheapest form of identity politics. … Moreover, we treat them as if they’re geniuses precisely because they don’t know much and have little life experience. Of course there are incredibly bright and knowledgeable young people. But as a rule we’re all born stupid and ignorant, and that condition improves only as we become less young.”

Darling Valerie and I are not happy when shows like “America’s Got Talent” let through the young singers. Little kids are adorable when they sing, but they sound like little kids, and half their votes are because the judges are too nice and the audience wants to “ooh” and “awwww.”

(Man, do I sound like a fuddy-duddy right now or what?)

It’s the same reason you never want to be in the top three of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” with videos featuring babies or puppies. Cuteness always wins out, including with parenting.

So yes, when our Super Cooper smiles at me with that look that says, “Dada, you’re the coolest,” I will melt and give in to buy him at Christmas his very own Hasbro Bag O’ Glass. But be careful. You could put a rip in the couch with that.

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