STEFAN KELLER — Special to the Southern News
When we think about some of the things childhood represents, we are likely to picture innocence, naiveté, curiosity and wonder about the world. Many of us yearn to go back to those days and feel these emotions again, unhindered by the burdens and hardships placed on us as we get older. It is true that many children face difficulties we would never wish children to have, but these difficulties only seem to grow more and more pronounced as we age.
One word you will likely not hear children described as, is wise. Wisdom is usually based on life experience and knowledge of the world, something children generally have less of than adults. However, when children say something profound, where does it come from? Perhaps children are less likely to complicate things than adults. Maybe they are more likely to believe in ideals others have simply given up on.
I do not come into contact with young children daily, as I do not have young siblings. However, I did have the privilege of tutoring some children over the summer as part of the New Haven Reads tutoring program. I met many children between the ages of 6 and 10, and worked with some of them one-on -one to try to help them increase their literacy.
I was fortunate enough to see one of the kids in particular on a daily basis. I believe he was in 2nd or 3rd grade. One day we were reading a book that mentioned becoming rich. This young boy turned to me and said:
“There are two kinds of rich in this world, money and the love that you get from your friends and family. I have the second one.”
After saying that, he kept on plugging at the words, determinedly sounding them out.
However, after hearing what the boy said, I simply could not focus on the reading anymore. I was stunned by the way this boy simply made this remarkably-thoughtful statement. Perhaps he was too young to understand the full implications of what he had said, but I believe he had some idea. For in that statement he acknowledged that he knew his family did not have a lot of money, but he knew that he was loved and cared for, and that was just as important.
Now, we constantly hear the phrase that money isn’t everything, but how many of us would describe ourselves as rich because of the love from our friends and family?
How many more of us would use that statement without truly agreeing with it?
The way that the boy said it out of the blue and with such confidence, I could tell that he did.
In a culture that puts so much emphasis on money and possessions, it is inspiring to see that this boy’s focus is already somewhere else. Let’s hope that it stays that way.
I will not deny that money does not have some importance. We all want enough money to eat well, put a roof over our heads, live comfortably and enjoy recreational activity from time to time. However, how much beyond that do we need?
We may say that money is not an object, but how much time do we divert to monetary endeavors over building relationships with those we love? This is a question that we all must answer for ourselves.
So what can we learn from this?
Maybe that we should value the time that we have with those we love and cherish our relationships with others. Maybe we should build relationships with those that may not feel rich in that all-important love category.
I cannot tell you what to do. But I will strongly suggest that you never become be too proud to believe you cannot learn a thing or two from a child.