Now, I recognize that many of you, my faithful readers, may grow a little weary of me writing about them. But I just cannot help it. They are a hoot! So much so that I have finally reached the stage of my life where I appreciate the sentiment behind the old bumper sticker that says “Let Me Tell You About My Grandchildren”. But I digress…
As of late, I have noticed certain recurrent phrases being tossed about among them as they play together. These include “Hey, tend like we (are doing this or that)…”, “Let’s batend like we (are in this, that, or the other place)”, and “Okay, plike we (are about to experience this or that adventure”.
By now, you will likely have figured out that “tend like”, “batend”, and “plike” are all varied attempts to say “pretend”. “Tend like” is self-evident; “batend” is the result of a four year old attempting to annunciate “pretend”; and in case you wondering, “plike”, I have surmised, is a contraction of “play like”.
The seven of them range in age from 7 to 2. And clearly, they are all in that magical age where their imaginations run wild! They can be a cowboy riding a bucking bronco one moment and a fighter pilot flying a jet aircraft the next. They can go from playing a farmer driving a tractor to being an astronaut flying a rocket the next.
In “The Merry Wives of Windsor”, Shakespeare has a character named Pistol affirm to another named Falstaff that the world is his oyster. That phrase has come to mean that anything and everything is open to someone to enjoy, if they will but pursue it. Remember, pearls are found inside oysters!
The point in all of this is that anything and everything is possible when you are a child. While you have certain boundaries, you are not yet constrained by the burdens that accompany adulthood. And therefore, you are free to dream and fantasize and to let your imagination run wild!
Would that we could hang on to that quality as we age. All too often our imaginations are simply crushed by the overbearing weight of adult responsibilities.
Of course, in a certain sense, this is to be expected. After all, does there not eventually come a time when we must all grow up? One cannot simply play his or her way through life without ever demonstrating some greater level of maturity that involves embracing responsibility.
As the Apostle Paul put it (in his First New Testament Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 23, verse 11): “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” One chapter later (chapter 14, verse 20), he further admonished the Corinthian believers to “stop thinking like children” and instead to “think like mature people”.
Still, there is something to be said for the glories of childhood. Albert Einstein himself once said that imagination is more important than knowledge! His point, in part, was that the preeminent quality of childhood is superior to the preeminent quality of adulthood. Many a scientific breakthrough has occurred as a result!
Of course, Jesus, too, praised the qualities of childhood. Only He did so, not in the context of imagination and knowledge, but in the context of reason and faith. In the New Testament Gospel of Matthew (chapter 18, verse 3), He tells us that unless we become like little children, we will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven! His point is that a simple, childlike faith (and not some complicated, protracted, reasoned discourse) is all that our Heavenly Father requires for our salvation and eternal life!
In light of that, I, for one, exult in being a simple child of God!
I hope you do as well.