In the course of a conversation about children, a friend remarked, "I found that I had far less worry and trouble when I let my child tell me what she needed and wanted."
She did not mean that her small and comparatively speechless toddler suddenly said, "Mommy, I need vitamins," or "please take me to a pediatrician." What she meant was that instead of cluttering up her mind and vision with other peoples' ideas of what her child needed, or with tomes on the rearing of children, she utilized the right combination of common sense and intuition. All children are different. Therefore, it seems logical that although their basic needs are the same, there will be a difference in their requirements. She did not ignore the many valuable hints that are given by medical men in the fine books to be had. But rather than try to fit the baby to the book, she fitted the book to the baby . . . as a reference not as a set of rules.
Her children are eloquent evidence of the success of her methods. They are well trained, well balanced, happy, and an integral part of a charming family unit.
The theory that children are blank little books upon which we, as parents, write the early pages, is well outmoded. Raising children is an interchange, for they have as much to teach us as we have to teach them. Their expression of it may be a little more subtle, but if we are open, we catch it.
That chance statement in conversation has returned to my mind many times. Perhaps too often we endeavor to fit people, child and adult, to our own pattern, or that of an authority, instead of allowing them the freedom of their own individuality.
We take pictures of our friends with a camera. We catch a particular mood on a particular day. We never expect those pictures to record them as they will always be. As they grow and change, we take more pictures. And yet, how often do we superimpose qualities of thought and action upon these same friends, and stolidly refuse any room for change. Many of our disappointments, if not all, in other people arise through their divergence from the pattern of action which we had set for them in our minds. For example, you plan something that you think will be of great benefit to another. Then you find that he does not welcome your proposals with the great joy you had expected. Is he wrong? You usually blame him for lack of appreciation. How much better it would be to help him to the fulfilling of his own naturally evolved plans, even if they do not suit your idea of him.
How often the sudden courage or nobility of a person whom we considered mean, surprises us. Is it that this individual has suddenly grown . . . yet he could not have acquired what was not already latent. We did not see him because our idea of him was uppermost in our minds.
The maxim "live and let live" is an excellent injunction to follow. But, live actively, ready to help if your help is needed and ready to be helped if that is the day's request. Each day will bring its questions and its answers, if we are not trying to mold time to our will.
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In the search for freedom there is eternal alliance between man and nature, and the voice of sea and wind can shout the battle-cry, as also they can sing the songs of peace, and whisper their dreams of the sunlit times to come.
But the dreams which issue from the soul of nature, are to great actions but the inspiration and the guide. We drink of the living waters of the imagination only that we may be strengthened for the daily task, it may be for the daily drudgery, which is none the less divine because it is of the earth. — Katherine Tingley