I love being with children as we head into the holidays. Children help us relive our own childhood. Just being around children brings gifts of wonder, laughter and looking forward to each day. Their joy of living life is definitely contagious to adults.

All grown-ups were children at one time, no matter how big we are now, whether we work, no matter what profession or lifestyle we lead. Children are truly a gift who come into a family’s life. Whether it be immediate family, extended family or friends, children are gifts.

Our community does such a wonderful job of celebrating the joys of childhood with the many activities it offers children, families and our citizens. As the holiday season is upon us, let’s stop, turn back the clock, reflect on our own childhood years and remember what children really mean to us.

1. The Gift of Wonder and Fun. Children’s wonder of observing things we may not even notice, such as birds, planes, cloud shapes and even ants working busily, is keenly observed and pondered. As we grow up, we sort of forget those things that made us happy.

Children love to sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” because they can do the animal sounds. They love to do the cow’s moo, the cat’s meow, the dog’s bark.

The wonder of swinging in a swing up to the sky or playing house with your friends — real or imaginary — are passing wonders that children treasure.

It’s neat to recapture the joy of those years as you spend time with children. Children live their lives to the fullest. Children give grown-ups the gift to “take time to smell the roses” as the old saying goes.

2. The Gift of Excitement. Go back to It’s A Small World (After All), written by Robert B. Sherman. We all remember that song. Looking at the world through the eyes of a child brings joy into our lives. With the little ones being so close to the ground, they can see the yard and ground up close and notice animal and plant life that you might not notice. Children are fascinated by the moon and stars, noticing a fallen bird that needs to be fed with drops of water, running through the rain and screaming with delight as they see a rainbow, jumping in a pile of leaves, rolling down a hill, etc. Let us reclaim our childhood excitement through these and holiday activities. All this and more give us the opportunity and time to be surprised again as we reflect back on our childhood by enjoying those things through the lives of children. What a wonderful gift children bring to us of being excited about times gone by, or being able to do-over things that we may not have done.

3. The Gift of Being Needed. Babies come into the world dependent on us. By a cry, squirm or facial expression, they let us know their needs.

For some reason as we grow up, we get this notion that we have to be self-sufficient and independent. When having children, teaching children or working with children, you realize real fast you need help.

One of those needs, as moms and dads quickly realize, is the need for patience. Also, you have to have the need for wisdom in asking other folks how they may have handled a particular situation. You also need kindness, and mostly, forgiveness.

I have learned over the many years of teaching that children are the most forgiving in almost all situations. When this teacher is tired and has sort of lost it for the day, a class of young children are the first to give me a hug when I feel like I have been quite impatient with them on a certain day. What melts my heart is when I have had to discipline a little one by putting them in “time-out,” and the child, after serving punishment, looks up and says, “Miss Beth, I love you.”

 Love means time spent, whether it is in teaching, having fun or even disciplining a child. Children need us very much, and they gently remind us that we are needy too.

4. The Gift of Hope. Early Childhood teachers witness excitement after they tell their preschool classes if they finish all their work, follow classroom rules, clean the room, that as a class we are going outside for recess. Their little faces get so excited and, as their teacher, I just cannot help but get excited with them. Field trips are something that young children really look forward to after a unit of study. It gives them hope of applying something they have learned. An example of this is after learning a unit on animals, they get to go to the zoo. Or perhaps after studying community helpers, they get to go visit the fire department or post office. I see hope in the eyes of young children when they are drawing something they truly like. I see hope in the eyes of a young child when they are building something with blocks or Legos, and they know they will be proud of the completed project. 

5. The Gift of Being a Better Person. Children keep you well grounded in what is important and what is not. Children help us to live and enjoy the moment if we step back and allow ourselves to see their world through their eyes. Each day is such a gift and one in which we don’t need to let a minute go by. As we enter this holiday season, we can truly be encouraged that children are truly a gift from God. 

Beth Pinyerd, Classroom Observer