(Image Credit – geralt- Pixabay)
Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven. – Henry Ward Beecher
In my last job I had an opportunity to work with the animation wing in my organization. They used to make beautiful animated content for kids.
To be honest, aside from cartoons which I watched when growing up, children videos was not a category I had paid much attention to. But I checked out a lot of kiddo stuff on YouTube from many leading channels as part of competitor research related to work.
And I must say, I actually enjoyed it. I found myself especially attracted to the nursery rhymes.
Aside from a couple of popular songs like ‘London Bridge’, ‘Mary had a Little Lamb’ etc. I was unfamiliar with most of them. English rhymes were not a big part of my curriculum as a kid, being in an Asian country. Also, when I was a toddler, there was no YouTube!
What lovely songs they are though. And the videos show such a beautiful world for children.
In nearly all the videos, we see happy children enjoying themselves – playing in farms, growing gardens, playing with dogs, cats and lambs.
There are rainbows and laughter. There are chirpy birds and humming bees, beautiful trees and flowers. Magical stars who come down from the sky to play with you, animals who play musical instruments, mischievous monkeys, ducks and kittens who trouble their parents.
They are very creatively done and I can imagine that these songs can keep a toddler enthralled for hours. It might explain why there are so many hour long compilations of nursery rhymes available on YouTube, the kids probably love to listen to them on loop.
When I see these videos though, I end up thinking – this vibrant, colorful world that they show there is the world our kids should be living in.
And not just seeing on YouTube or on TV.
Think about it, what will a day in the life of your kid look like? I am trying to imagine a little boy or girl, maybe 4-10 years old. Once the kids are in playschool/ pre-schoolers, I imagine they start mingling with other kids their age.
Soon they start going to school, attending classes, doing their homework, maybe spending time at a babysitter’s, playing at home or going out to play with their friends, spending some time with their parents once they return from work and sleeping. Add in a weekend trip to the nearest shopping mall to round it off.
The above short summary is pretty much what I see around me. This is also how it worked out in my time but without the shopping mall, since there weren’t any around when I was a kid. These days toddlers are also fast catching up with technology, already able to operate smartphones and whatnot with their tiny fingers.
But do we see this stuff in any of the songs for children? Weird, right?
There is a vast difference between the what might be said to be the ‘ideal’ world for kids – interacting with nature, petting animals, going boating on the lake, playing around mulberry bushes, running in farms vs what they are actually living daily.
Ok, so maybe some of it is impractical.
I mean talking cats, monkeys jumping on a bed, fireflies, fluffy unicorns, elves, living snowmen, stars coming down to play etc. is fantasy stuff. (Sooner or later the kids will also realize that, when they start becoming adults).
Yeah, I hear you. After all, kids have to go to school. They have to study, even if it’s not the most fun thing in the world! They can’t play all the time, like they show in those songs.
I know, I know. There is no farm nearby. Forget about lakes and mountains, even a park is a bit of far-fetched reality sometimes. But still.
Can we somehow bring at least a teensy bit of the magical world from those nursery rhymes and weave it in the daily real life of our tiny tots?
I live in an urban jungle, in a developing country and have no kids of my own, so yes, I have zero, experience in the parenting department. But hey, the good thing is – at least I have been a kid before!
I believe it will bring much magic into the lives of kids if we take them for a walk around town and help them feed stray dogs or kitties. It will bring absolute delight to a kid if he gets to play with puppies or kittens.
It’ll be a blessing if you can afford to bring a pet in your house, your little one will have a beautiful furry friend and will likely learn about unconditional love right from his early days.
A rolling farm and mountains are a likely to be distant reality for most of us. But there might be a park nearby where you can stroll with your tiny tot, breathe some fresh air and walk barefoot on green grass.
Or if there is none, maybe you and your little one can nurture a rose tree in a small corner of your house and appreciate the beauty and joy of one of God’s most miraculous creation – the velvety, fragrant flower which can brighten any day.
We can teach them to appreciate the beauty of trees lining the sidewalk. Maybe we ask them to name a tree and teach them how that tree is a precious friend.
I believe we pick up a lot of things about the world in that impressionable age – when we are young and pliable. The world that your child is experiencing now might affect his behavior well after he or she has passed into adulthood.
I often find myself deeply disturbed by the incidents of unspeakable animal cruelty happening in many places in the world.
I was having a conversation with my friend, upon reflecting upon a grave case of animal abuse by
juveniles in my country –
‘If we can arrange for a puppy or a gentle dog to be brought to a classroom full of kids and let them play with him, under proper supervision, teach them how animals are also living beings, who love and play just like them – would it help better nurture qualities of love and compassion in them, from an early age? If this was included in academic curriculum everywhere, on a frequent basis, would it help raise a more compassionate generation?’
He answered that such a thing would require a drastic change in the system.
He also mentioned that these things were never taught to us.
Many of us adults are so empty when it comes to empathy for humans, let alone animals – How can we teach what we ourselves don’t have? I had to agree.
In school, we were taught how to study, we were taught science, math, history, geography. There was some moral behavior class, which was more often than not a class for free study. We were made to recite prayers and pledges without any explanation of the significance of the same. Even at home it was not too different.
Get better grades. Rise to the top. Be an achiever. Do not be a failure. I don’t recall being taught kindness, compassion and love.
We were taught to be competitive.
Our parents focused on our education, scores and grades. We were never really questioned on whether we had done a kind deed in the day. We were never asked whether we had helped somebody or simply made someone smile.
This is not to say that our parents were bad parents or were not concerned of our well being. This is also not to judge all of you parents out there who are giving all you have to raise your little ones and give them the best life in every possible way. But coming back to the question.
How can we teach something which we were never taught, which we ourselves might have just started learning? Qualities which we know are of vital importance to us as a human being but which we ourselves are fumbling with.
In that case, can we also not learn with our tiny toddlers, bit by bit, one step at a time?
And someday, maybe we can heal the world enough so that it is indeed a beautiful heaven for our little darlings – which they so rightly deserve.
Authors Notes –
The world is becoming a scary place – somehow this often becomes the topic of discussion at home between me and my sister. And we don’t even read the newspapers! But Social Media, Yahoo, Google bombard us with some news articles here and there anyway and most of them do not contain good news.
To be honest I have never had any major brush with nefarious elements of the society. But being a woman, I have faced adequate uninvited harassment and whatnot. I have also noticed that people around me in general have become less than tolerant and irritable.
There is animal abuse in the neighborhood where I live – such incidents were unheard of before.
My own building complex had called me for a meeting because of the ‘nuisance’ we were creating by feeding a couple of strays in the area (even if we do it outside our society premises). The first argument that we got is that they are receiving complaints of littering (even though we leave just a handful of food which the dogs eat up, in a corner of the street). Upon further probing a deeper reason came out – they were unsure of whom to blame in case of the remote possibility that one of the dogs bit anybody.
They were unaware of the fact that the dogs outside our complex are playful, gentle and friendly. They were unaware that when you show them kindness and love, dogs are creatures who will return it hundred fold. They could not understand that unless rabid or severely provoked due to abuse, the dog will do them or their children no harm (the dogs have harmed nobody till date) and were closed off to any discussion regarding the same. They were also unaware of the fact that the planet belongs to other living beings like dogs as much as it belongs to humans and one should at least try to co exist.
They laughed at the suggestion why not counsel our children to interact safely and kindly with animals instead?
It was then that I understood that their attitude was simply a result of absent compassion, kindness and empathy which may not have been taught to them in the first place. I consider myself purely lucky in this regard. All credit goes to my first kitty who for God knows whatsoever reason chose me and my family as her hoomans. She helped me open up to many more precious four legged souls. Else I also viewed my now furry friends with the same lens of fear and distrust.
And its not just about animals.
We may have become adults on paper, but there is so much more we have to learn. About nurturing nature, about life, about love. About living beyond a lofty goal of procreation, accumulating more and fat bank balances.
No better time to start than now.