When we were playing marbles around the the cypress trees at Ocean Grove Primary School, little did we comprehend how complicated life would become. Our only interest was winning, honing our skills and showing the other boys how clever we were.
There is an innocence and naivete in being young that is precious because once innocence is lost, it can never be regained. Innocence allows the young to wonder, imagine and rejoice in the world around them. This guilelessness makes wonder and exploration exciting and new. The ocean is a catalyst for stories and wonderful horizons, a forest, a place of scary stories and imaginary creatures … and so on.
It is bad enough that wars and famines destroy that youthful wonder daily, but even when we don’t have these monstrosities we still kill wonder. To put it coldly: too many of our young children know too much. They don’t have to wonder or imagine because it is all done for them. Television and the internet leaves nothing for their forming imaginations. But this loss of innocence is particularly noticeable when it comes to human sexuality. What the average 12 year old knows today far exceeds the knowledge of most 12 year old fifty years ago. Has this extra, early knowledge made for healthier adult humans? I don’t think so. It has tragically led to an overly sexualised society from our children up. Sexuality has lost much of its wonder, beauty and mystique. But I digress.
My plea is that we give our children room to wonder, imagine and explore without imposing upon them our adult understanding too early. That reality will come soon enough – we don’t need to rush it. Our kids need to room to imagine, explore and create – to reveal the world as they see it.
I wonder what Leonardo da Vinci’s childhood was like? I can’t imagine that his parents told him that his fantastical pictures of helicopters and machines were idiotic imaginings. He, I think, was allowed to wonder, and that wonder stayed with him for his whole life.