"A child seldom needs a good talking to as a good listening to."
"Children need love..."
During my travels I have had many a life-changing experience. I have connected with nuclear non-proliferation activists, had run-ins with belligerent drug dealers and -- believe it or not -- mingled with a nudist or two! Each experience enriched me in some way. Each experience taught me a lesson about life. Each experience stayed close to my heart even when my travels were no more.
One such experience sticks in my mind and is maybe the most profound of them all. The purest. The most endearing. It was the night I stumbled my way into a babysitting gig in Denver. It was a night that touched a sweet spot in my soul.
During my adventure across America on $5 a day, I found myself in the house of a loving couple with a young daughter, Andy. After getting to know my new friend, she invited me to bake fresh brownies (fortunately, to the best of my knowledge, no one was poisoned!). I then had the honor of reading her a story, "Jack and the Beanstalk," if my memory serves me correctly. My babysitting stint ended with Andy telling me a story about her cuddly toys and how they were her very best friends.
This little interaction got me thinking...
If there is one long-lasting gift an adult can give a child, it is simply to listen -- to listen with their hearts, with love. A child's formative years are like sponges, and the gift of being fully present for them is priceless. My philosophy is to listen and love. I connect with them from their vantage point. I reach out to them from a place they can understand. I embrace their little idiosyncrasies. I attempt to do my little part to fill the blank canvas that is their life.
When I was a child I remembered the small acts of kindness and generosity showed to me by adults. I remembered when I felt special. When I felt appreciated. When I felt important. When I mattered. Why not go out of your way to listen to and love a child? Any child. Share your love with them, your heart. This is what they need most. Isn't that what we all need?