RIP Childhood Enthusiasm

Do you remember that unbridled excitement you felt as a child whenever something new happened? Probably not because the human brain is not wired that way. We don’t really remember the joy, the freedom, the excitement, the heart pounding pleasure of a childhood experience.

Once we have children of our own, some of this unbridled joy may come back to us through our children as we experience things with them. (And for this, I am thankful.)

What makes me sad (even though I’m a contributor to the problem) is that my children and so many of their generation aren’t genuinely enthusiastic about anything anymore.

It doesn’t take a degree in child psychology to figure out why—although I’m sure a child psychologist somewhere has done a study to determine the exact scientific reason.

It’s the rush. Kids these days are stressed. Just like mom and dad. We are all rushing around, getting from one place to the next in traffic, construction and congestion. It’s a constant go-go-go. Kids don’t open the front door and go outside until the street lights come on like they used to. To provide them with the exercise and the stimulation they used to get from playing with their friends in the neighbourhood, we now have to register them for activities and make sure they have a full, yet balanced schedule of physical activity, brain stimulating lessons, and socializing.

And when mom and dad have a chance to do something with their kids, it is with smart phone in hand lest they miss a call, text, email or some other “important” communication, like communicating with their kids in a 100% attentive way wasn’t important enough.

I recently baked muffins with my daughter (I do this quite often, actually, because homemade beats store-bought any day). As we were stirring the ingredients together, she said, “I am SO EXCITED! I can’t wait to add the chocolate chips!”

And I thought to myself, “Wow. She is excited to add the chocolate chips. That’s it. The chocolate chips are the big excitement here.” I was in awe of her enthusiasm. Such a simple thing. Granted, adding chocolate chips also meant tasting chocolate chips, but whatever. She was excited about a simple, joyful thing.

It struck me that I could ruin this moment if I let myself slip back into my usual habit of rush-rush-rush and pushed through the task of making the muffins just to get it done and move on to the next thing.

I was so glad for this Aha! moment. I had a million other things on my mind. I was busy (like always) inside and out. But I forced myself to slow down and recognize, cherish, appreciate and bask in the glow of the enthusiasm that was radiating from my daughter.

I don’t want to contribute to the problem, to the death of childhood enthusiasm. I want to contribute to childhood enthusiasm. Recognizing this Aha! moment is a first step.

Hopefully, others are doing the same. Being busy is a fact of life. But being present, truly present, in the life of my child is more rewarding than any other task on my To Do List.

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