A neighbor’s little boy of about six, wide-eyed and full of questions, curiously peeped through our cyclone-wired portion of the fence and asked me the most interesting question: Are you fixing your house?’ I was tempted for a while to poke a little fun at him by answering him with another question ‘Why, is it broken?’, but merely replied yes, renovation in a way would be very much like fixing too.
As always, the straightforwardness of children provides us adults with an endless supply of amusement. Sometimes too, how they express feelings, without the usual filters employed by the more mature (or domesticated perhaps), is the reason for our fondness, despite its shock value.
Another neighbor’s kid (from affluent upbringing) happened to come by our house with his nanny and upon entering, exclaimed flatly that our place was “pangit” or ugly, compared to their space which recently, had elegantly just been renovated. Loudly shushed by the nanny, I in turn, shushed her back and to just let him be. For me, calling it as he saw it was fine. He would have to learn why it was not polite some other time.
In many ways, this perspective of children, calling a spade a spade and then mixed with innocence, is just one of their many superpowers. This is why, in today’s world, their sense of wonderment, which we all possessed in great quantity once upon a time, while “cute” from where we sit, comes with a very specific neck tag: Fragile.
As all superpowers go, there also exists opposing powers which act like kryptonite to weaken or neutralize them. The most potent of these, is the word “NO!” In my experience, I must have seen hundreds of children stopped dead in their tracks, merely by the utterance and loud incantation of that one particular word. The double-whammy effect is likewise most certain once this seemingly magical word is said aloud by a person of authority who subsequently is influential in the child’s world such as a parent or a teacher.
Whenever I encounter such episodes on the streets or wherever I am, I am immediately reminded of a Neil deGrasse Tyson interview where he discussed children’s curiosity, “They are experimenting with their environment. Everything is new to them”.
Exploration is the key, as most memes like to be coined, and this molds anyone’s attempt at learning. Going back to my wide-eyed neighbor asking about me fixing our house, I wished I had enough time to entertain all his queries. Actually, for him I wish more than that. That despite the thousands of “NO”s and “don’t-do-that”s that he will surely encounter in his exploration of the world, I wish the child inside never dies and his curiosity never wanes.
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