The soul is healed by being with children

Hank Mattimore
Dec 15 2008
Reproduced with Permission

I suspect that parents, dealing with their kids being home from school over the holidays, might choose to differ on the "soul-healing power of kids." Words like "frustrated" or "challenged" or "driven berserk" are a few of the more polite descriptive words that might come to mind when big people spend school vacation time with the little people in their lives.

I sprung Dostoevsky's quote on a young mother of three kids the other day (the devil made me do it) and, she harrumphed "Bet you Dostoevsky didn't have any kids or, if he did, his wife was doing the child care in that household."

Still, the presence of children in our lives can bring healing to the soul if we are open to it. Adults are caught up in dealing with future plans and schedules or still nursing wounds incurred in the past. Kids, just because they are kids, live in the present. It's one of their greatest gifts.

When we find ourselves wrapped up in what we are going to do tomorrow or next week, kids have a way of looking at us bemusedly as though we really don't get it. Their moment is in the now. "Let's play basketball," they'll say while our adult brains are objecting "It's time for dinner," or we stall for time while we haul out that old chestnut, "Maybe later."

Kids bring other gifts, too, like the soul-healing gift of honesty. I'm not sure how it happens that phoniness becomes such a part of our way of dealing with life, but it does.

The other day I'm walking my dog, Sammy with six-year-old Todd. Checking out my dog's increased girth, I say to Todd "Wow! Sammy's getting fat." The little guy doesn't miss a beat. "Yea, so are you Grandpa Hank." Can you imagine another adult being that straightforward? But, for little Todd, he was just being honest.

In my life as a surrogate grandpa to a village of kids I feel indebted to the youngsters in my life. They heal my tired soul with their sense of wonder. Their energy puts a spring in my step. Their playfulness renews my own flagging spirit. Children's natural optimism and openness to the future makes me dare to dream that evil will be overcome and we will survive.

Please don't call this grandpa a Pollyanna. The kids I spend my life with can wear horns as well as angel wings. These particular kids have experienced major trauma in their young lives. Their wonderful honesty does not seem nearly as charming when they are telling you to go to hell or to "f_ off."

But I still feel fortunate to be with them. Children give me a perspective on life I would not have without them. And yes, I have to agree with Dostoevsky, they do help to heal my soul. It is said that no one stands taller than the person who stoops to help a child. I would add that no person is as blessed.