Appreciate the joy of little ones

For the Monitor
Published: 12/21/2018 5:14:41 PM

I’ve always been drawn to children. As a youth, I enjoyed spending time with younger children, and became a babysitter at a young age. I found that being around children’s joyful demeanor is infectious. It is in their nature to play and to celebrate life’s everyday miracles, something we adults soon forget.

When I became a grandfather seven years ago, I was unprepared for the emotional jolt. I enjoyed being with my own two children as they grew up, but that time largely fell to my wife. I’ve made up for that with granddaughter, Eliza. I spend as much time as possible with her. Each and every time I’m with her, my heart fills with the joy of unconditional love.

Eliza has led me into a second childhood. She reminds me to live in the moment, to make every moment last. There’s no better way than to slow down time than to hang out with children. You cannot be in a hurry. You cannot be focused on anything else. Children encourage us to be like Buddha, because they are little Buddhas.

I started taking Eliza to lunch when she was nine months old. It was then I began to understand there are people who “see” children, and those who don’t. There are far more of the latter. Wherever I went with her, it shocked me that most people would ignore the amazing outfit she had on, or the smile she sent their way.

Liam is another child I am fortunate to know. As soon as he started walking, he would make the rounds at Pizza Chef in New London, stopping at each table to flash his world-class smile, like a tiny goodwill ambassador. I didn’t ask him to do this. It was in his nature.

I once held Liam in my arms at the Warner bookstore. He smiled at the woman on duty with such force that, after a moment, she held out her arms. Liam readily went to her, smile ablaze, wrapping his arms around her neck in an all-encompassing hug.

I am convinced the joy I experience with Eliza and other children is therapeutic. Next time you’re in a store or supermarket, notice the little ones gazing at you. They have not yet learned to be wary of strangers. They are still in that angelic state of love and trust, looking around to make a connection.

Acknowledging the children and their parents around us is a way to help balance out the horrors committed against children around the world, including the thousands in our own country, separated from their parents at the border. These chance, fleeting moments reinforce the notion that all children, not only our blood relatives, are our responsibility.

(Sol Solomon lives in Sutton.)


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