Spending 24 hours with a three-year-old grand-daughter and a year-old grandson this weekend, brought back memories of their mother's childhood, and the kinds of feelings that can only be generated when little people are engaged with and responding to our adult presence.
And, if nothing else became eminently clear, what did emerge was proof once again that Rousseau was on to something very important, that we are not born evil, that we are taught evil and that whatever religious impulses to "correct" our evil we impose, they are mis-guided, mis-directed and unfounded.
Sure there were minor episodes when the one-year-old wanted the same toy his sister was playing with, and she obliged by offering him an alternative, just as she has so often seen her mother do. And there were also moments when the little girl became a little frustrated with the attention paid to his needs, which were no more significant, if at a different level, than hers.
However, singing and dancing to records both children had become familiar with, knew how to start, and to control the volume and how to switch the channel demonstrated a kind of freedom and a level of abandon in those moments that most adult lives have lost, surrendered or perhaps discarded in favour of much more "mature" pursuits.
Yet are they?
Curiosity, some risk-taking on the more physical level by the little boy, yet also on a social an intellectual level by the little girl who "organized" the adults in her game of "red-dog, blue-dog" or rec-room soccer in which she played goal, intermittently interrupted by pairs dance competition from Sochi on the television screen and a quiet, "I really like her blue dress" from the little girl....and smiles, smiles and more smiles from both children when their faces met ours and we shared moments of both engagement and fun....and the children were the "litmus" test of what was fun....if and when they were enjoying themselves, that was also fun for us.
And along with the fun came the reflection of what actually constitutes fun, joy and just how simple and yet how impacting it really is.
Any thoughts or conversations about "making money" or about "jobs and labour" in order to make money were so incongruous to the moments of "community with the children" although all moments that engaged in their questions, their observations and their facial expressions were synchronous with their growth and the purposes of the adults in their room.
Mini-lectures on "how to behave" seemed so adult-driven, as compared with the incidental and almost accidental interventions "on the fly" that became integral to the experience of the children. While that may be a little vague, it was clear, for example, that as things happened, and were reacted to by both children and adults, the children observed any "how's" the adults wished to present in almost imperceptible ways, as compared with the heaviness and the boredom of the "lecture" method, leaving one to wonder just how many times our generation had lectured to our children, and just how wasteful our energy and time was, in that lame exercise.
It was an experience just to absorb the feelings of these young people, bright, active, engaged and for the most part extremely happy and engaging and to reflect on the passing of the generations, both the great-grandparents of these children, and even their parents...and their place in the family lineage.
And that experience demonstrated, and proved, as if more proof were necessary, that we are all indeed connected not only by a genetic line, and a family history line, and all of the various means of technology, but more importantly by an emotional and spiritual lineage that points us all in the direction of full achievement and flowering of our best talents, interests and capabilities. And if and when that connection is nurtured and fostered, and not imposed by either or both the needs of a parent or a state, but in the course of the natural engagements and encounters, observed and reflected upon by those whose eyes and ears are attuned to how these little flowers bloom and need to bloom, then who knows the heights to which each of these little people can fly...and who would not wish to be there to see them bounce off their respective clouds in the ecstasy that can only come from such flights.