Protecting Childhood

Like Grandma Did Old fashioned homemaking

    I spent a good part of yesterday staring at a photo that has gone viral. Maybe you’ve seen it yourself. It is one of tiny preschoolers playing quietly by themselves outside on the playground tarmac. Each child alone and contained to a box drawn by chalk. School has resumed in France, and this image gives us a glance into life post-covid. More than just gazing though, I have wept over this image since I laid eyes on it unable to articulate the ache I felt in my heart. Perhaps I can try my best to explain...
     Though I have never travelled to war torn countries, I have seen images of kids trapped in the walls of conflict. I have stared into the eyes of small children through a screen and witnessed how the loss of their innocence age their tiny faces. These little ones have known loss. They have known hurt. They have learned too much too soon. They also know there is an enemy. They know there are “good guys” and “bad guys”. There are even sometimes physical boundaries in which they should not pass through in order to protect them. I look at the babies in this “back to school” image and see a similar battle. I don’t dare downplay the severity of poverty, pain, and mental anguish the children of a violent war experience, but there appears to be an overlap nonetheless. What breaks my heart most is that the boundaries for these preschoolers are drawn by chalk, a boundary destroyed by the smallest drop of rain. And yet, there they sit being shaped to fear the box next to them as a potential “enemy”, a person who may bring harm to either them or their families.
     This is a battle without weapons, nor a clear cut enemy. It has drawn imaginary lines of safety and caused these children to see the world in a way that we have never had to see it within the privilege of a first world. But I fear more deeply for these children...they are learning that boundaries, literal lines drawn in the sand, are to be respected and are not to be challenged, not to be pushed past. They are learning their enemy is not a “bad guy”, but rather a sickness lurking in the ones they call friends. We have given them reason to fear friendships, to fear learning together, to fear free play and imagination. We have given them a reason to stand in a hand drawn box and feel trapped without a physical boundary to hold them there. This illness, the fear we brought to the table with it, has robbed their innocence like any war would, and for that my heart grieves.
     It is through the innocence of a child that I see genuine joy as they discover the world around them. I see genuine hope as they know not the cynicism of an adult heart. I see genuine love as everyone is a potential friend regardless of any category we place on those around us. I see their faith as they walk out day by day trusting that it will be ok. It is the children who teach us adults to wonder at the world around us. It is the children who renew our passion and hope in God as we slow down long enough to see as they see. Without the innocence of childhood around us how will us adults be inspired? Surely the loss of childhood will ripple through our communities.
      Sadly I don’t have a solution, only a deep nagging feeling that this will not be ok regardless of how temporary these boundaries may be. The thread on the tapestry of childhood has been pulled and each passing event only unravels their innocence one strand after another. You only lose your childhood once, it is a sacred season that must be held in high regard for the sake of them, for the sake of us

Lost in Thought,

Like Grandma Did

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[name=Sarah Slanzi] [description=Old-fashioned homemaking steeped in God's grace] (facebook= (instagram= (pinterest=