Many children are drawn to the water. They run in for a cannonball, using all the breath within them to squeal as they leap off the edge of a pool with delight. There is no other care in the world in that moment, other than to feel the water, again and again. Children feel everything.
This dissipates with age. Why do we not jump in for a cannonball just the same? Even if we jump in alongside them, we take many thoughts and doubts and prejudices along with us — no wonder a child can reach the top of the water with such buoyancy. There is no other weight they carry. Just joy.
We can learn so much from the child, but this isn’t a matter of attempting to lessen our own constitution or to worry less. It’s about helping to elongate the genuine connection a child feels with his own life and the invigorating environment around him.
When we step away from a learning opportunity and allow the child to cut his own bread in two, to tie his own shoe or to make it to the edge of the pool with his own bravery and our smile in sight, the child is awarded an appreciation that we no longer feel. And, that kind of appreciation only extends the enchantment of every encounter life brings — every splash, every shadow, every flower that’s bigger than it was the day before. The child sees things so reverently — including us — why would we ever want to disrupt that view?
The water is such a big learning space. There’s power and a lack of mercy and so much allure at play. Even as an adult, we can be drawn to the water simply for its juxtaposition of tranquility and ferocity. Children feel this, too, but rather than fear the unknown, they crave the sensation of it. When we watch a child spin his little body like a fish or watch an infant splash wildly with gladness, we don’t see any reservation or hesitation, we only see gratitude. They see any body of water as something that is indeed bigger than themselves, but if we allow them the space to do so, they arrive to the edge with a spirit that matches the power of the water, and they deserve to feel and live in that purity for as long as they can. How can we help them in that?
Montessori says, “The child is a well-spring of love. Whenever we touch the child, we touch love. It is a difficult love to define; we all feel it, but no one can describe its roots or evaluate the immense consequences which flow from it, or gather up its potency ...” May we welcome the child to greet the day like this for years to come.