Children as Friends

The Congregationalist

Probably nine-tenths of the people in the civilized world regard children as so many little animals, embryomen and women, dependents to be fed and clothed, kissed and petted, but standing on a very different plane—a lower one, too—than themselves. We are impatient that they know no more, tugging them along mentally with us, as so many times we hurry them in a walk, forgetting that the poor little steps are short and the tiny feet cannot keep up with our strides. We look down upon them mentally, forsooth, for no better reason than that we can look down upon their physical stature!

It does not occur to us to be companions with them, to mingle with them because it does us good, to make friends of them. And yet child friends are as dear and beautiful a source of inspiration as this old world affords. Their intuition is so keen that we know enough to look askance at the person whom all children instinctively shun. There is nothing that can account for this unerring instinct. It is not explainable, except as we recognize that the child knows no shams, and is perfectly frank, and therefore instinctively mistrusts that which is not open and true. But whatever the instinct or its source, it is certainly a fact, as Oliver Wendell Holmes said, that "children are wonderfully sagacious in detecting their natural friends and enemies."

Questions and Answers
September 14, 1899

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