Through the Eyes of a Child

One of the reasons I love working with young children is because I get to experience the world from their point of view. Things that I take for granted are brand new to them – something to examine or experience or discuss. Their point of view makes me reexamine my own knowledge and encounters. Its a joy to see the wonder on their faces and to hear the excitement in their voices. In spite of adult pessimism and forecasts of gloom, children live in the moment and tend to enjoy the opportunities they have to play and participate in their surroundings.

Several weeks ago, I had an opportunity to monitor and assist a student who is battling brain cancer and its treatment. She was having trouble with her fine and large motor skills, yet she continued to try to participate in class. I admired her tenacity, as well as how the other students pitched in to help her. By mid afternoon we had to send her home because she kept losing her balance and falling. All we could do in that moment was pray. After two days she returned to school determined to join the other students in their daily routines.

This past week, my student was doing much better. The reports of her medical treatment were good and she appeared to be quite in control of her motor schools. She asked to go outside during recess, which was a rare occasion for her. I took her outside and to my amazement she began to run. Her arms were outstretched like an airplane. Her face was turned up to the sun, and her smile was broad and bright. She bent down and caressed the grass. She ran her hand along the bleachers. She hugged some of her classmates, and galloped across the field. Other students watched her. They clapped their hands and yell to one another, “Look at ________!” All of us were filled with gladness.

Later that afternoon, she wrote a few sentences about how beautiful the day was, and I thanked her for helping me see the beautiful day with the beautiful little girl enjoying herself. I imagine many people see her with pity, but she doesn’t see herself that way. She is resilient and optimistic. Her parents have instilled hope and confidence in her. Her classmates see her as part of the collective and allow her to be herself regardless of her setbacks or advances.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all could see each other as members of the same community? If we could see others through the eyes of a child – accepting their weaknesses and celebrating their victories – perhaps we would experience more joy. If we could live in the moment, rather than grumble and complain about the “what ifs.” Certainly, we all have circumstances that we are forced to deal with, even situations that we would have never chose for ourselves, but we do have the choice in how we choose to deal with our circumstances. Like my student, we can choose to make the best of each day and appreciate those who are in our lives to help us. We can take advantage of the ways we can enjoy the beauty in each day if we take a fresh look at all that we have and all that we are. We can find wonder and hope and confidence, and comradery if we take a minute to look at life through the eyes of a child.

Be tenacious! Be resilient! Be determined to enjoy every beautiful day of life!

The epidemic of depression in America strikes 30% of all children. Now Martin E. P. Seligman, the best-selling author of Learned Optimism, and his colleagues offer parents and educators a program clinically proven to cut that risk in half.