Re-thinking Children and Childhood

Children can teach us a lot, yet we always assume the role of teacher. Too often we get caught up in the small inconsequentials of life, that can profoundly deplete our energy. But children, more often than not, can bring out the best in us because they see the world differently. To them, life is about freeze-tag and toys. Could anyone ask for more simplicity? Thus, talking with a kid is different. She won’t drone on with small talk, he will cut right to the chase, and they clearly know something we may not.

In the animated adaptation of “The Little Prince,” we are reminded that growing up is not a problem; forgetting is. Forgetting that there is so much joy in the world if we seek it out, and that imagination is much more powerful than an Ivy League diploma. We knew it as children when we did not have as many limitations on what was socially acceptable, and back then, all that mattered was acting on impulses. Somehow, we were able to better live in the moment. Yet, along the way many of us have forgotten that sensation of youth in which life seemed easier, bountied with goofiness and endless opportunities. But there are ways we can remember.

The joys of youth can be found at The Walla Walla Public Schools. Having a consistent and positive friend in their mix can change their lives, literally. After all, they envision being grown up as fondly as we envision being young again. Nothing would be cooler than being able to call one of us their buddy. I, myself, have a buddy. When we laugh and run, the weight of the outside world seems to fall off my shoulders. And he is just a sweet boy who wants a friend to run around with at recess, and do funny voices with at lunch (also, not even the joy of childhood can compete with the joy of free lunch, provided if you join the program). I found my buddy through Friends of Walla Walla, a wonderful organization that pairs you up with an elementary school student who simply wants a friend. After I said ‘see ya next week’ to my buddy, I met this adorable little girl who just wanted a friend like me to come see her once a week. She was humbly shy, but let out a cheek-to-cheek smile when I promised to find her a friend. As she waved goodbye from the top of the slide, I thought of how happy she will be with a buddy, and how happy she will make that buddy. You could be that buddy, that friend, that mentor that seriously changes the life of someone young, someone that sees the world differently. Who knows, they might just change your life as well. (Plus, free lunch!)

Everyone at Whitman, and those in Walla Walla or College Place, that has a spare hour or even a half-hour around lunch time once a week, should find a friend in The Walla Walla Public Schools. In our obsession with the inconsequentials, we could all instead use a moment to go to school and get taught by a first grader.