Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Girl Panel

“Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven.” Henry Ward Beecher

Alright…go with me on this. I think children should be involved in every major decision ever made in the universe.

Let’s pretend that every time we need to place someone in a position of “power” (I use that term very loosely) we should have a panel of children as the final hurdle over which the individual must jump to receive the position.

I can see it now. A CEO is being hired for a major corporation. He appears before the panel. Questions begin:

“Do you have any pets?” “Where do you go on vacation and who goes with you?” “How many kids to you have?” “Why do you wear that suit when its 95 degrees outside?” “What is your favorite flavor ice cream?” “Is that a wig?””What do you eat for breakfast?” “Does your mother kiss you every night before you go to bed?”

The content of the questions doesn’t really matter…it’s the manner in which the responses are given that will either resonate (or not) with the kids.

Here’s another example. A person is running for Congress. She wins her district but has to appear first before our panel of experts (kids). Questions begin:

“What color is your hair? It looks kind of multi-colored to me.” “How old are you?” “What’s your favorite food?” “What do you love to do and why?” “Why do you wear that suit when its 95 degrees outside?” “Do you own any fur coats?” “What board games do you enjoy?” “Did you like school?” “Do you smoke?” “Do you skateboard?”

Kids are just so downright honest. They are beautifully transparent, honest and “unfiltered.” They haven’t yet made up stories (or been pulled into stories) about how people “should be, look or act”. They are instinctively and intuitively plugged into their born-into-this world innate ability to just be…here I am, there you are, let’s spend some time together, the world is okay.

I am reminded of Katherine. She was only nine years old and a typical tomboy—hair unbrushed and usually covered by a baseball cap worn backward. Her high-tops were worn and faded.

A couple of weeks into the Girls on the Run program, Katherine told me (quite nonchalantly I might add) that she had a special gift that only a few people in the entire universe possessed. Of course, I was thrilled by her willingness to share this with me. “Katherine…that’s so exciting. What is this amazing gift?”

“I can fly,” she replied…a sly smile on her face and a mischievous twinkle in her eye.

“You can fly?” For one brief second, I considered rebutting her, but I reconsidered. Who am I to know? Maybe she really could fly. I mean… heck why not?
“You wanna see?” she asked.

Katherine took my hand and escorted me to a small hill, adjacent to the school’s driveway. “Wait here,” she stated, pointing to a spot (which felt as if it was reserved just for me) at the bottom of the hill.

She took in a few deep breaths, shrugged her shoulders and marched the 25 yards to the top of the incline. Her eyes tight, nose scrunched, and arms held out at 90-degree angles, she concentrated really hard for a minute. Then with absolutely no warning at all, she began flapping her arms like a huge pterodactyl and started running full speed down that hill. At the bottom, just before it leveled out, she leaped high into the air, and for that moment, breath held, time stopping, Katherine, my nine-year-old friend, took flight. And for that moment I took flight with her.

Katherine can fly. She hasn’t yet bought into an outer world that suggests otherwise. Her freedom to be, along with the other girls I’ve met over the years, has re-introduced to me the world I knew back then, but had stepped away from around middle school. In this world there simply are no limitations… I can run in the rain, sing in the car, cry when I feel like it, yell when I’m mad AND love every aspect of myself (and others) in the process. They’ve shown me that there really are no boxes that confine me; it’s all been made up…a lie…a story… and one that I can choose to buy into, OR NOT. They live in a world where real is real, love is love and hope is…always.

So, to get you in the kid-mood, watch the following video and then answer the questions which follow it.

What have you learned about yourself spending time with kids? What do you hope the children in your life say about you now and when you are no longer here? Let me know at


  1. Children have taught me that to "do nothing" is a valuable choice ... and they often demonstrate for me, in conversation, drawings, music, daydreams, and more ... the fruits of that mindful "nothingness."

    From children, I learn to rest if I'm tired; that it's OK to nap (even in the middle of the day); that it doesn't make sense to "power through" fatigue, illness or a funk.

    Children are mostly optimistic ... if you want support and reinforcement for a big idea; crazy thoughts; the general trials of minutae that can plague adults, hang out with the younger set. They see past obstacles; they believe in the power of you to do, be, imagine "infinity and beyond."

    Children are forgiving. If you're struggling with resentment, judgment, self-criticism or perfectionism, open it up (appropriately, of course) to a child or teen, and they seem to have a simpler "acceptance-and-move-on" naivete, perhaps wisdom. They haven't collected the clutter that can feed rumination and muddle clarity.

    Children teach joy; they remind you how to understand and feel all the emotions, especially the ones adults prefer to avoid, distract or deny.

    Children are the best mirror-of-self in my life, good and less positive, and I am grateful to count three "truth-tellers" among my favorite people. They make me a better person; they are an integral part of everyday happiness and energy for life, the day.

    I value the children and young adults/teens in my life who daily remind me ... life is good; there are always solutions to problems; we are never really alone; people care; we are loved; it will always be OK in the end.

  2. I don't have children of my own, but work with them regularly and am continually amazed and inspired by their honesty and genuineness. There is such truth inherent in their wisdom. As you say, they have not yet attached themselves to the stories about themselves that end up limiting and confining all of us. I think it should be our mission in life to get back to the innocence and peace of being a child.