Book Sneak Peek
Read a preview from The Joy and Love of Childhood
--Release date : July 4, 2023--
THEY DON’T LET YOU ANYMORE
It’s kind of embarrassing, as an adult, that I can’t read a certain Pooh Bear story without a few tears. I recently discovered this when I read the entire collection of Winnie the Pooh stories to my little girl. She loved listening as much as I enjoyed reading them. In all the countless books I’ve read to her over the years, I never found myself struggling to keep my emotions in check until I reached the final chapter of The House at Pooh Corner. When I read The Velveteen Rabbit, I was at least prepared for the sad part, but Pooh Bear snuck up on me.
Despite having read all the Pooh Bear stories as a child, I now suddenly saw them differently. I found a huge sadness hidden in plain sight from the minds of children. It was surprising to read the same words, and gain an entirely new and unexpected understanding. Tears began welling up as I struggled to maintain my composure while reading the harmless sounding final chapter, “Christopher Robin and Pooh Come to an Enchanted Place, and We Leave Them There.” Christopher Robin was telling Pooh that he was going away to school, and said:
“I’m not going to do Nothing anymore.”
Pooh asked, “Never again?”
“Well, not so much. They don’t let you.”
He asked if Pooh would go to the enchanted place by himself after he was gone. I imagined my little 6-year-old going off on her own to school and having to leave her favorite small stuffed animal friend at home. At first, I didn’t understand what was making me so sad—growing up? No. I want her to grow up, have adventures, and never stop learning and loving life. Was it becoming an adult and having to do all the miserable, stressful and tedious stuff like jobs and the rest? Yes and no. I don’t want her to suffer working a meaningless job just to get by and then die after having never really lived. Yet it’s not good to be handed a million dollars and never learn to work, manage responsibility or overcome adversity. But that wasn’t what was really bothering me.
So, what then? It was frustrating to pinpoint. I tried to sit quietly and just let the feelings wash over me. It felt like losing something. That which we lose when we grow up because we are forced to fit into the preexisting world that others have made. I felt an overwhelming sadness and loss at the thought of ripping out the joy and love of childhood from their little souls to conform to the expectations of “the real world,” aka that depressing place we see on the news with the crime, poverty, cruelty and ceaseless wars. The one where bullies at school grow up to be toxic bosses. We feel we need to toughen up kids in preparation to survive in a place most of us don’t even LIKE. In so doing, we destroy the very thing this world needs to transform into the place we all wish it were.
"To be more childlike, you don't have
to give up being an adult. The fully integrated person is capable of being both an adult and a child simultaneously. Recapture the childlike feelings of wide-eyed excitement, spontaneous appreciation, cutting loose, and being full of awe and wonder at this magnificent universe."
THE WORLD IS WHAT WE MAKE IT
Education and upbringing don’t have to kill what’s precious about childhood. It’s not necessary to force them to leave behind everything that is magical, to become adults who live by the rules and values of someone else. They lose all ability for slowness alongside the innate knowing of right vs. wrong just to slide down into the gray area of justified morals, conflicting demands, pressure, stress and constant worry over what other people will think. Once it’s gone, it’s nearly impossible to regain later in life. Not even after years of therapy, meditation, retreats, or other things on which unhappy people spend their time and money in a desperate quest to find happiness and authenticity. Kids don’t live their lives giving two figs about anyone’s opinion regarding what they like or do. They live authentically and at their own pace.
When Christopher Robin told Pooh he would no longer be allowed to “do nothing,” he was describing what it means to be forced to “grow up.” In other words, to stop being YOU. Stop taking time to enjoy beauty without agenda or envy. Stop looking inward and trusting your feelings and connection to your spirit. You shouldn’t feel that way. Listen to and trust the external voices as the authority of your life. Focus on what we tell you is important. Follow rules without question.
With school comes the pressure to be who everyone else expects you to be. Pretend to like what you’re supposed to like, look a certain way, and behave in an accepted way. Fit in with the crowd at all costs to avoid social trauma, and never so much as pause to check if you’re making the real you happy. Who is that anyway?
It’s the end of the joy and love of childhood. It’s the end of your child as a unique individual for whom joy erupts over seemingly simple things, such as watching ants on a flower. Your child is inseparable from his self-knowledge and happiness. Simply wearing a tutu, purple boots, and stickers on both cheeks to the grocery store makes her happy. Shame is as unknown to her as the surface of Mars. At some point, it is introduced as a weapon of control and conformity. Shame initiates the rest of her life as a socially acceptable shell, which guards and hides her true self from the world and her consciousness. The message is, “The real you is not ok. If you want us to love and accept you, pretend to be someone else.” But that’s a false promise. The child is never really accepted or loved, only the false persona she created to survive. She spends her life feeling hollow and unfulfilled, never understanding why.