“Grown ups rarely understand anything. It is tiresome for children to always be explaining things to them.”
From the first time I read this quote back in high school right up through this morning, this quote from The Little Prince has made me think and rethink the way I do things. I am sure I had heard the story before, but I specifically remember it from my 10th grade Global Studies class.
I had a teacher who seemed to live by this premise, that grown ups just don’t get it. As I got older, I continually found myself thinking of the world in this big, complex, and often drama filled way. Every time I saw this quote, I would be reminded to think about what a little child would think.
It is amazing the clarity that thinking like a child can bring to your problems. You might look at me like I am crazy, and say, “Why in the world would we want children of all people to solve our problems?”
I would say “Probably because doing so will almost always solve your problems.” I think about this quote when I am at work. I teach an anti-violence program in a low performing elementary school.
When two kids, let’s say 2nd graders, get into a knock down, throw down, bloody nose fight, “Mr. Eagan” is called in to “fix” the problem.
The younger the student, the more I seemingly finding myself teaching, and the less effective that is. I talk about coping skills, and tactics they can use to avoid fights, and telling an adult, etc etc…Ya know what kids who punched each other in the nose after talking about each others mammas need? They need to sit for 5 minutes, then they need to apologize and hang out and color together.
With almost every single story like this in my school, within a few hours these kids are playing together and having fun together, and sometimes even helping each other with school work, and becoming better friends. Now, we could teach them to prevent these scuffles, but sometimes the scuffles teach us how to become grown ups… which is when our real problems begin anyway.
How simple? Actually hanging out and doing something together solves the problem? As grown ups that doesn’t work, because we do not let it work. We are so good at convincing ourselves that “this can’t be fixed” That we won’t even bother to fix it.
We limit ourselves this way with our fitness, our health, our finances, our politics ….
Tell a little kid that you spend too much money on things you don’t need so you are now broke and they will say with no irony and no mocking “don’t buy things you don’t need”.
When I tell my students I am a runner, almost every single one of them says “I could beat you in a race”. It’s so matter of fact. It’s so simple.
Children may be afraid of the monster under the bed, but they are not afraid of a challenge. They are not too proud to overcome differences, and they are not too stubborn to learn to get along with others.
The adults who give this advice all day long rarely live it when they go home. Heck we rarely live that advice with our own coworkers.
Failure seems to be a learned fear. We learn to not try things, we learn to not take risks. All the time we hear “don’t do this and don’t do that”. Rarely do we hear “go for it”.
I never hear kids shooting down other kids dreams. Every kid in my school is going to be LeBron James… Ya know who tells them they won’t be?
We ask, “what is plan B”, we say “you won’t make it” Ya know who never does that? Other children. When I was a kid I wanted to be a fireman, or even an archeologist. Everyone told me how amazing it was, until a certain age. Then it became “that’s a dangerous job” and “not many people have those jobs, and you probably won’t make much money”.
Suddenly my dreams were no longer acceptable. I needed a safe job, a steady job, a boring job, a MONEY job. Not a dream job
I don’t want that for you, I want you to dream . I want you to experience. I want you to live. I want that for me too. I have made some big changes in the last few months, I think I am ready for more. It is time to listen to our hearts and not to our critics.
Have big, complex, exciting dreams, and simple, fixable, boring problems.
Don’t you agree? Take a minute if you get a chance, pick up a copy of The Little Prince and give it a read, then let me know what you think.