In The Image #21: What can you learn from a child?

The past weekend has been…exhausting. Delightful, enlightening, hilarious, touching. But exhausting.

The stars lined up in such a way that we kept our youngest grandchild here for the weekend, seven-year-old Jaxon. Usually, if he is here, Jaxon is accompanied by his two older brothers. This weekend, eldest was in the mountains, snowmobiling with his dad. Middle son was home, helping mom with a 4H booth at the curling rink. We got Jaxon.

In fact, just now Jaxon meandered down the hall after his shower and asked what I was doing. I told him that I get paid to write stories. Whereupon he excitedly insisted that he could write on the computer, and knew some stories, and would anyone pay him. That’s kind of the way it’s gone.

“Excitedly” is the operative word for the weekend. How that much energy, impishness, and creativity can be packed into Jaxon’s wiry frame astounds me. I have a greater respect for the weariness that I see on his parents’ faces.

When we picked Jaxon up yesterday, it seemed good to head to the Saskatoon Family Fun Expo. Between Jaxon and his grandparents, there’s not a lot of extroversion present, so the huge crowds were a bit overwhelming. But then we found the bouncy castle. On circuit one he shed his coat, circuit two it was the hat, and three meant time to lose his bunny hug. And still his face grew redder.

Every time Jaxon slid down the chute that marked the exit, he made quick eye contact to assure himself that opa was still present and in he charged again. To see our beautiful fair skinned fair haired boy in this massive crush of children of every hue and ethnicity was moving and delightful.

After that, we joined other family for a meal. But Jaxon was restless, eager to head to our home where he could unpack the bag of toys that he had selected for his days here.

To help Jaxon pass time at the restaurant, I gave him my phone to play with, and he quickly found his way to the Kijiji site, and started his teasing about the green tractors that he loved, and the red ones that I am historically connected with. That’s been on going since he was three.

When we finally arrived home, Jaxon defined to us which bags we would carry into the house, and which he would drag in. He chose the toys. A farm was created, with several yards placed in different rooms. He pointed out to me, only a little condescendingly, that he had brought one red tractor.

At one point, Jaxon decided that we should move to the garage to work on the old Snow Cruiser. I was game, but when I picked up the first power tool, he disappeared. Obviously smarter then his opa, Jaxon abhors loud sounds.

The teachings of Jesus make it quite clear that there are important spiritual learnings to be gleaned from children. I tried to hold that in the back of my consciousness as I related to this whirlwind of energy. There is a freshness, a trust, an honesty that knows no bounds in a young one raised in a good place. There is courage to explore new experiences, to offer outrageous observations, to insert wisdom untainted by historical agenda. If you aren’t comfortable with honesty, better not spend time with this boy!

As I write, Jaxon waits for his turn at the keys. He asks if I’m being distracted by the movie he and grandma are watching, because he doesn’t want me to be delayed.

There is wisdom, certainly, in the call to “become like children.” In the innocence, there are gifts of truth, gifts of energy, of creativity, and gifts of trust. All of these gifts are dependant on children being raised in a community of care, of affirmation. It is almost frightening what the sponges in those small brains do soak in. But it’s a good fright, a fright that encourages us to live openly and gently.

The bickering over the red and green tractors Jaxon finds on my phone may lose its charm. But it remains a way to relate, to tease, to delight.

When Jaxon heads home tomorrow, the exhaustion will, as always, be mixed with awe.