After spending many hours with children of various ages, including my own 7 year old, I have been inspired to write. Before writing, I Googled various forms of 'children taking charge in the world' to see what had already been written. I found a lot of things that were very materialistic and devalued the amazing little humans we are surrounded by. There was one poem written in 2011 that put a McDonalds or a Pizza place on every corner, almost everything built out of candy, the place was a mess and everyone stayed up all night. I believe we are missing an incredible opportunity to tap into a valuable part of society. That by undervaluing them or making assumptions about their interests, we are missing out on the imaginative, curious, insightful perspective they bring. What I was looking for was a reflection of the words and actions around me every time I have child with me. Here is a sample of what I'm surrounded by and I'm sure you are as well if you stop and listen.
Some of my favorite sentences:
- "They should really let us vote. We would not let people like that be in charge."
- "What would Mayor Nenshi do? We should do that."
- "Why don't people smile or say hi more? That's rude."
- "Why isn't anyone doing anything about that? I can't wait until I'm big enough to show them how it is done."
- "Why is school boring when learning is so much fun?"
- "Why wouldn't people just ride bikes everywhere or take the train? It is more fun, it is safer if cars weren't on the road and it's better for the environment."
Some favorite actions:
- Seeing what needs to be done and doing it (Except cleaning up her own stuff in my daughters case)
- Picking up litter and calling people on dropping stuff.
- Questioning everything that is wrong with the world.
- Seeing everything as an adventure.
- Being amazed and excited about the things we adults often take for granted.
I'm not a naive parent who believes my child or anyone else's is perfect, but I'm inspired everyday by how they think, act and care. Too often society tells children to be quiet, stop worrying about stuff that doesn't concern them and ignorantly tells them that they will understand when they are bigger.
If we want to make change, improve our communities for us and for generations to come we need to think like children sometimes and ask their opinions. Actually I don't think we often need to ask. We just need to encourage them, listen and watch. Teach them what is happening in the world, the good and the bad. Share with them what we are doing in our "adult" space and hear what they have to say.
We need to find space in our conversations, groups, events and organizations to involve children. There are many groups that will not currently involve children in their work. I haven't found one group yet that a child couldn't help work towards their mission.
I know many children would love to live in Candyland but I'm sure if they were in charge it would be an amazing place to live. It would be probably full of laughter, creativity and big dreams that turn into action. They would not destroy their home, they would make up with a hug and they would have enough for all.