Have you noticed the number of baby pictures/videos that float around Facebook and get thousands of likes? Not the ones of babies you know, but the ones of babies you don’t know – babies in cute outfits, babies laughing, babies babbling… Some baby pictures and videos get lots of “likes” for a cause (you know… “one-cent-per-click-to-cure-this-baby’s-cancer” type of cause). But lots of them get “likes” and comments just because they’re so stinkin’ cute and adorable. Admit it – you’ve probably clicked “like” on some of these pictures yourself… So have I.
The fact is, babies and little kids ARE adorable. And the MILLIONS of “likes” they get on Facebook are a proof of that. Young or old, parent or not, people like babies and little kids. We can’t help it.
These pictures delight us because they connect to the child inside of us (even more when the child is real and right in front of you!). We spend most of our time running from this child. We have been socially conditioned to leave “childish” ways behind us. We would be ridiculed and slighted, if not outright rejected and sneered at if we behave “childishly”. After all, we’re mature adults now, right? But in our social efforts to get rid of all traces of childishness, we end up crushing a very natural part of ourselves: childish innocence and delight.
Children live in a delightful world. They love anticipating good things (you know – tickles, cuddles, cookies…) just as much as they like actually receiving them. They aren’t worried about what people think, so they live totally engrossed in their own happiness.
Children also develop constantly and love learning. They are proud of it and always look for the opportunity to learn more. They love showing us what they know, but they’re more focused on learning new things. Somewhere, around adolescence, something snaps and that goes in reverse – we become more focused on proving ourselves than on learning more. We also become much more pessimistic (sorry – “realistic”).
I’m not against maturing. We aren’t supposed to be kids forever. But there is a part of the child that is meant to remain in us. When Jesus told us we would have to become like little children, I think he meant it. Today, there’s too much of a divorce between childhood and adulthood. We draw lines, but nature favors continuity. There is no magical moment when we stop being a child, and there is no need to let go of all that is good and pure and innocent and joyful in childhood in order to become an adult. We become an adult by growing in abilities, understanding, virtues and wisdom, not by subtracting all the goodness, purity and joy of childhood.
The people I respect and admire most in life are still connected to the child inside. They take joy in simple things. They trust. They take delight in anticipation. They are the first to learn. They are willing to apologize. They remain in awe at life and all it contains. They’re not afraid of believing in fairies, as I mentioned in a related post a while ago…
Next time you see a picture of a cute little baby on Facebook, remember that it is reminding you of something very real inside of yourself. That little warm, fuzzy feeling is connecting you with all the love and joy you have deep down. Don’t be afraid of putting aside the seriousness of adulthood, the competition, and the oh-so-urgent tasks once in a while to get to know the child still inside and let her live again.