The Endearing Age

Children make you want
to start life over.”
– Muhammad Ali

An honest man is always a child.”
– Socrates

Nine years-old.  It’s such an endearing age.

Currently, I’m working on a short-term project reviewing anonymous answers written by nine year-olds.  I have no idea whether individual responses are from girls or from boys.  Couldn’t tell you anything particularly identifying about any of them, even if I wanted to, except what state they live in.  Still… I’m sworn by the employer not to reveal any details – due to endless privacy laws that seem to be everywhere these days – and can’t be specific about a jot I’m reading.

Arrrggghhh.

No “kids say the darndest things.”

No examples of sweetness and humor and creativity that would bring such a smile to your face it would light in your heart like a butterfly.

This is torture for a writer.  Especially for one who loves to write for this exact age group.

Yet… I’ve been musing on what I might be able to tell you…to give you a flavor…and still comply with the (albeit nutsy) absolutely-no-revelation rule.

And here’s what’s been burning on my heart all week that I think I can share:

I love these kids.

I have no sweet faces or childish voices to go with their written words, but I can see and hear them beside me as I read.  I find the Holy Spirit whispering to me to pray for a few of them. Others, I bless with a silent “you’re awesome, kid!”  Still others bless me with their untainted hearts and pure expressions.

And I wish… oh, that we could stay innocent and loving and honest as they!

Some can take a simple question and tell you a whole story, even morphing into chit chat about their own lives that has nothing really to do with the question…but reveals a loving heart, a creative flair, an ability to laugh and make others laugh with their open silliness.  These are strictly just words, for the most part…but every once in awhile there’s the budding artist who can’t resist doodling a little drawing to illustrate their thoughts (and one who actually signed her name beneath it – oops!).  I can accomplish my task sometimes by only reading a sentence or two… but when I see where the child is going with telling me about something of their own hearts and lives, I just have to read it through.

And as I read, children of my own nine year-old days come before me, misting my eyes as they seem to be right there again…

In the child whose writing is round and easy to read, every letter “i” flourished with a happy tiny heart for its dot, I can once again hear Kathleen Quinn laughing – and see her impishly grinning up at me from her paper of similarly unique penmanship touches…

Or in the one and only one I come across who has written answers in pretty cursive, I can almost see Terri Levy’s beautifully-executed handwriting… and I see myself, spending hours every night – head and nose nearly down on my paper – almost drawing my letters until I thought they were as  lovely and perfect as hers.  How I loved her writing!

In the child who is obviously making up a response geared to make the reader laugh out loud at its purposely ridiculous impossibility (oh, how I wish I could tell you exactly what they wrote! 🙂 ) – I can hear Janet Mattochs explaining to our teacher just why she was so – um, entertaining – in her ever-clowning but always clever responses, while the rest of us stifled our giggles, hands over mouths:  “Well, I’m planning to be a comedian, Mr –, and I have to practice somewhere!”

There are the kids who so misunderstand the question in their hurry to read it through that their answers are incomplete.  Yet…they took such pains to tell their story, told you something personal of their own feelings, that it can make you go, awwhhhh!

“Somebody needs to clarify these questions and how they are written!” the guy next to me bemoans, even as he chuckles at a common and funny misinterpretation. I hate having to mark one down as wrong when these kids are SO cute!” 

Oh, me too… I think.  For even when they’ve totally missed the direction, there is still something there that is filled with such awareness…such twinkle…I hate to damp it out, even though they will never see it.

And then there are those I just know are destined to be novelists and playwrights, lyricists or writers who encourage.  What a delight!  I can see it there in their inventive phrasing…  (again, I wish I could give you some fantastic examples!  They blow me away with the understanding and use of metaphor, coming at such a young age… especially when I see those at completely the other end of the spectrum who are satisfied to answer with barely two or three words.)

In each one, scrawled or written beautifully, I can see their personalities.

There are the logical ones who are sharp and to the point, no word wasted!

Others who are so talkative I can almost see their hands and fingers flitting about them like fireflies as they go on to enthusiastically confide a little extra of their own thoughts…compelled by a need to… tell… their… story.

The class clowns who love to take a chance and make anyone laugh…even if it backfires with a wrong answer.

Some who are literal, almost analytical.

Others who are bursting to overflow with creativity.

And, I think…

We need them ALL.

I fancy I can even tell which ones are happy-go-lucky, and which ones stressed or lonely.  It’s there in their penmanship, in their words, in their style.

Bless and keep these kids, Lord, I pray as I read.  And…renew their childlike heart-view in us who think we are so grown up… Turn our hearts back to when we knew how to trust, to wonder, to explore, to learn with exuberance.

For, in their words I see hearts that care about animals, people, all of life.  I see budding blooms with a fragrance that could refresh this world.

©  Pam Depoyan

Reading the words of these children, I’ve been remembering some of what I enjoyed about being nine.  What I loved about my dog.  How I felt.  Books I loved to read.  It seems to be an age on the brink before we begin to know it all…  And so I thought of posing this question here (I may do another post to give my own answer) :

If you could be a kid again for a day, how would you spend that day? 

Note: I don’t mean  going back to your childhood that was.  Instead, this would be a brand new day – with no mistakes in it (yet).  A redeemed day.   If you could be a child just for today, retaining the blessings of who you have become along the way and now know – and could do anything you chose -what would you especially love to do?                    What age would you be?

“A child reminds us that playtime is an
essential part of our daily routine.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

                            “…let their flesh be renewed like a child’s;                                                     let them be restored as in the days of their youth.”                                 – Job 33:24-26

“The pursuit of truth and beauty is a
sphere of activity in which we are
permitted to remain children
all our lives.”
– Albert Einstein

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About Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

I love to hear your thoughts, even chat back and forth amongst comments.Won't you join the conversation? :) ..................................................................................................................... May my stories refresh you, like a whisper from our Father's Heart !
This entry was posted in Personal Experience Pieces and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Endearing Age

  1. From Diane R. (sent by email to me because the system isn’t allowing her to put her comment here again – ack!):

    Pam, you have such a special heart. The children, whose stories you read, are blessed becasue of your prayers, and the positive, encouraging thoughts you have toward them.
    If I could be nine?…

    I’d like to be free to play. FREE to play as I’d like to play. I never had that freedom.

  2. Diane, yes… I can see you doing that. 🙂 A beautiful sunny day, made just for you.

    Just wondering…If you could picture yourself playing in that freedom, can you imagine what you’d be playing and where you might be? Might you be with your old friend that you recently met with, or someone else do you think? I had a clear image come into my mind of myself last night as I thought about this… May share later in a post 🙂

  3. Martha Herden says:

    Pam-
    Hello! My first time to stop in and visit your Blog site-its Awesome!!! I could add a million other words, but WOW-to have the opportunity to read the writings of children-who I believe speak STRAIGHT from the heart-what a GIFT from GOD.

    In response to your suggestion, writing about a “brand new day” when I was a child-

    “I am six years old-and know-its Okay to SMILE!”

    • Hi Martha! Welcome to my site… Thank you for your kind words! I love your “brand new day” image of being six! Sounds like you might have been shy, like I was as a child. I think I would add for myself… it’s okay to say what you think and be yourself! 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed my post. Stop by again!

      • Martha Herden says:

        Pam-
        Thank you for these words and YES-I will be stopping in regularly! Something tells me you are able to “look” into the eyes of a Child (the window to their soul) and get a glimpse of things they might be going through-be it good or bad.

        I “think” you might have left a comment or two on my Blog: Pain Won’t Beat Me as I am one of hundreds, thousands, who suffer with Chronic Pain. Please know you are always welcome!

        BLessings always, Martha Herden

  4. Thank you, Martha – Yes, I’ve always loved children and am always identifying with their hearts. Started as a kid, watching all those reruns of Shirley Temple movies! 🙂 Blessings to you, too and I will be by to read your blog 🙂

  5. This very day, which is a summer day here in our country. I would be up a tree, holding on to a limb, swinging my feet and feeling the breeze as they rustle the leaves. Later in the late afternoon, I will be settled in a hammock, reading away a book, or a bound-together comic book, full of fairy tales, borrowed from a close friend……. reading away and imagining what it would be like to be the princess who was all black and blue over a pea under a dozen mattresses, or how heavy the tresses of Rapunzel were.

    Then tomorrow, I am planning to bike around the island to visit my cousins, swim with them in the beach down their backyard, then pick Green Mangoes and together we would eat them with some salted tiny shrimp paste.

    Ohhh, to be nine again…….!!!!

    Thanks for this lovely writing about the hearts of nine year old kids, Pam.

  6. P.S.

    How I would like to able to read what they wrote, and find out for myself the character and heart of each one…… as you yourself are finding in them.

    And I am happy that you are enjoying your new project.

    My love and warm wishes for you,

    Lolita

  7. I know and I understand, go and take your time. I just am so glad you could find time to write and share to us about your project.

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