By Mohan Karulkar:
We tend to think of acting childish as a negative, and use it as an insult. But really, there are so many ways in which acting like a child could do us some good.
I have a two year old son who has begun to balance his usual brilliance and kindness with bouts of willfulness and frustration. And, funny thing, as a parent I’m equally susceptible to bouts of willfulness and frustration.
Try as I may, my frustration sometimes gets the better of me. I yell. I let the time-out stretch a little too long, or the good-night hug end a little too early. I skip pages to get the story done quicker, and use all manner of manipulation to get that last bit of asparagus into the belly of a not-hungry toddler.
Then, after everyone’s asleep and I’m in that late, quiet part of the evening, I am confronted with guilt. My son doesn’t understand the world, let alone his own mind. He deserves love and patience that stretch for miles. So I commit myself to doing better the next day.
And you know what? The next day, my son is excited to see me as much as any other day. My previous impatience is lost to the spontaneity of his young heart. To be sure, there are things that even a child won’t forget, but as it is, my struggles through parenthood are forgiven. I’m his dad, and he loves me for that. I get a new chance every day to give him the best day ever.
It makes me a little sad to know that that won’t last forever. I know that as we grow older, we learn to remember hurts and disappointments. The time-outs may one day become groundings, and those probably won’t be forgotten as easily.
But in the meantime, I’m always left in awe at my son’s ability to forgive, as only the heart of a child can. We should all be so lucky — to have the capacity for unconditional forgiveness and infinite fresh starts. My family, my coworkers, my friends … and even myself … would all be better for it if I possessed a child’s heart in that way.
Today, let’s chase after that heart. After all, we had it once, before we learned that there was an alternative.
How close are you?