The Astounding Energy of Children

14 Nov

Tonight my 5 year old son chased me around the house for a very long time.  We circled tables, climbed over couches, and tumbled across beds.  As he ran after me with all of his energy, he laughed with rapturous delight.  And I got to thinking about the emotions of children.  Their feelings are like bright colors, while those of us adults are so subtle we often hardly realize their presence.  


Why do adults stop having fun?  Is it because we have responsibilities to which care-free kids are oblivious?  Perhaps.  But I live near some tennis courts and when I watch people play, they look deadly serious, as if their lives are hanging in the balance.  In those moments, these adults are not working for their livelihood or engaged in some other activity essential to their survival.  They are playing a game and yet it takes hitting a spectacular shot to bring a smile to one of their faces.  And I am probably the same way when I play.


Is children’s ability to more easily delight in life due to its freshness and novelty?  Do adults get bored with what we’ve become used to?  I think that is part of the answer.   


There are also the expectations we adults place upon ourselves and each other.  In childhood you are supposed to discover and be surprised by what you find.  In contrast, we adults take pride in not being caught off guard.  We are wise to the world.  Our humor is that of wry irony.   


Does being an adult require leaving the frivolous fun of childhood behind?  Or should we cultivate a space in our days to do nothing but delight in the miracle of our existence?


Posted by on November 14, 2013 in Uncategorized


4 responses to “The Astounding Energy of Children

  1. christa

    November 14, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    I love that sentence “delight in the miracle of existence”. You are a very beautiful writer in addition to being a very good doctor! Thank goodness I saw your blog displayed on your desk when I was with you for my appt. I have started reading your archives and categories and now have your blog on my Bookmark Bar. I have lots of catch-up reading to do.
    I did not know that your younger son was diagnosed with autism. There are so many degrees of autism. You said that he was not speaking yet. Does he make sounds? I know you and your wife have read a lot more on autism than I but autism has been of interest to me for a long time. Does UT have a special pre-school through their Education Dept for autistic kids?
    And then you write about your 5 yr. old son with such joy.
    I agree that everybody seems way too serious as adults. Free unstructured time, daydreaming, nowadays I would add turning off all media devices, going outside and appreciating all the gifts from planet Earth,…..guess it is time to rake a pile of leaves and jump in !
    Thanks, Christa


      November 16, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      Thanks for your kind words, Christa. I’m not sure if UT offers a pre-k for children on the autism spectrum. My wife has been doing most of the research and coordinating, so I’ll ask her to look into it. Our 3.5 year old can use 1 word at a time to communicate. Most importantly, right now he is happy most of the time which was not the case before he started ABA therapy. It’s been effective in helping him out of his isolation and into engagement with the world around him.

  2. canda goose

    November 21, 2013 at 7:47 am

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!

  3. Julia

    June 26, 2017 at 4:38 am

    Fun looks like different things at different ages. Sorry to hear about your son, I wonder if my 3-year-old niece is on the spectrum. Though her mother is a D.P.T. and works with children with disabilities, she doesn’t notice any symptoms in her own child.


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