A Child; curious, hopeful, naive, innocent, and loyal. So young and so full of life and wonder. Their fragility should be savored, cherished. We see these traits in them and realize our own superiority, immediately disregarding their thoughts and ideas because of our own pride and ignorance. We are older and know more. Why should we give up our valuable time to listen to people that are so much younger than we, and have so little experience?
The fact of the matter is that children are more complex than we give them credit for.
Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, is written from the perspective of a little girl, Scout Finch. Scout is constantly at war with herself and the things around her throughout the book; school boys that pick on her or Jem, family members that say nasty things about her father, neighbors that say she should look and act more like a lady. Scout talks about how she’ll beat up anyone that is mean to her and the people she loves. She also actively talks about her father and the status of his case.
This gives us reason to believe that children are aware. They’re not just dim-witted, little ninnies like we’d like to write them off as. Children see and acknowledge the things going on around them; they just don’t see the point in acting upon something that does not immediately catch their interest.
Another character, Dill, runs away from his home to Scout’s home. Later, he tells her that left because he felt unwanted by his own family. His mother had gotten remarried, and whatever he did, they would not pay any attention to him. It is also known that this step-father of his does not like that he’d rather make up stories than play baseball with the other neighborhood boys. The neglect from his parents and the emotional toll from his step-father eventually caused Dill to leave his home. Dill was loyal to his mother and would return to her after every summer; that was, until he had a reason not to.
Parents choose to have children. Children cannot choose who their parents are. It is a parent’s job to take care of their children and make sure they receive a good education so that they can support themselves when they are adults. Parents should not expect their children to immediately repay them for what they have been given. Like growing a tree, rearing a child takes time. It is not until the tree is fully grown that it begins to bear fruit.
Children know when they are not being treated well. However, they are stuck with the parents they are born to. This is unfortunately a cause to runaway children, like Dill. These children end up missing forever, or they eventually return to their parents.
A poor childhood can lead to problems as a teen and adult. Loneliness that a child may feel may end up leaving them feeling worthless and unwanted by anyone else. They may have issues trusting others after they leave home. They may have a constant fear that everyone they love will eventually leave or grow tired of them.
Traumatic experiences a child may face can end up affecting them for years or even the rest of their lives. This actually happened to me when I was five or six. I want helping my parents put ladybugs into our rose garden. Originally I was letting them go two at a time. I asked my father for more ladybugs, and he thought it would be funny to dump the entire bag into my chubby little hands. This would have been fine, except that the ladybugs were very alive and swarming. Imagine this five-year-old girl, shrieking in terror and waving her arms frantically while tiny ladybugs crawled up and down her arms. That’s what happened to me, and to this day I have a fear of ladybugs and any beetle that resembles them.
This may not be the deepest example of a traumatic experience that a child may face, but the message is still the same. Events in their childhood change who they become as a person.
Children are a blessing. They preserve the small traits in life that people tend to lose when they enter adulthood. Curiosity, hopefulness, naivety, innocence, loyalty. Adults can learn a lesson or two from the heirs of the earth.