Tonight was a church event where parents could drop off kids that were not yet in middle school and they could go and have a date night while people who volunteered watched and hung out with the kids. I was one of the people who volunteered to hang out with the kids. I had a lot of fun doing so and I enjoyed spending a Friday night helping out.
Snack time eventually rolled around. I went and sat at four conjoining tables by a number of kids. This strange thing started to happen where kids would get up and go to a specific group of kids that were sitting on the floor. Kids kept doing so and it was the same group. I started to pay more attention and the kids in the group on the floor were basically saying things to lead to that outcome. The kids at the table would hear those things and be swayed and they would go join the kids on the floor.
Maybe I should have said something. There were things I heard, but it wasn’t exactly organic. Does it need to be? And we always tell ourselves we have to choose our battles, but I sometimes wonder if that is more out of comfort for ourselves more than anything else. The group of kids I sat by ended up dwindling down to one five year old girl, who decided to stay at the table. Maybe she didn’t hear or maybe she didn’t care, I’m not sure.
As I thought about what was happening, I grew sad. Kids aren’t born innocent and I know they have their flaws, but I see so much potential for good in their lives. It’s hard not to see a sweet five year old girl and not think about the ways in which she can care deeply about the world and thereby work for the good of the world. It’s difficult not to see a fun-loving three year old boy and not think about the way he can delight in the world and through that delight care enough to change the warts he sees. But already this potential was flickering.
And I thought about why I have these thoughts about children and not adults. I am still sad when I see some of the ways we act and how we are selling ourselves short. It is kind of heart breaking to see the ways we can work for the life of the world but then notice that we are content with our nice houses, nice cars, favorite shows, etc. But I don’t see it as much. Is it because the potential isn’t there? There’s still plenty of good and beauty we all can work for, yet seeing this is always dimmer, it’s only a flicker sometimes. So I began to realize my own fickleness.
So I was sitting at a table eating animal crackers and I was sad. Sad because already the potential and beauty of the world, these kids, this specific kid was being lost. And sometimes I worry we won’t ever find that beauty again.