Thank you for Other People’s Children

I have never given birth to a child (I breed paintings, there is no doctor involved—though it can be painful sometimes) but I do feel an immense responsibility and genuine devotion to the well being of children.


I have loved other people’s children as if they were my own; my God sons, Nat and Owen who have given me as much joy, pride, and heartbreak as I could ask for in 20 years, 27 art students, ages 6 to 13, who taught me more than I could have possibly taught them, the many children I encountered as a social worker who inspired me with their hope and invoked my own fierce protection instincts, and all the children, birthed by my friends, who I have loved and watched in awe as they developed into fascinating people.

I once asked a friend’s 4 year old daughter a very complicated question about life and it’s meaning. She pondered for a long time (she took this rhetorical question very seriously), putting her hand to the side of her face, then placing both hand’s on her hips, she looked at me like I was an idiot and exclaimed “I can’t know!”.

I still use this line frequently. It is profound. Children “can’t” know things until they learn them from us—sometimes without our awareness.

Children are messy. They are noisy with their laughter, their crying, their testing of power and their need for attention. Children are self centered, demanding, and sometimes a very uncomfortable reflection of the adults around them.

They are us, new beginnings of us in the making. We get “do-overs” with every child we encounter. We cannot take children for granted or regard them as peripheral to our own development or needs. If they are too loud in a restaurant, if they run across your flower bed, if they chase each other down the aisles of your grocery store, if they stare at you in an elevator, or ask you an embarrassing question in public, pause for a moment. Think about it.

We will all be old. We have all been children.

Hopefully we will never be too old to still be children (or appreciate them).

Thank you for the birth givers of children.

My God sons Nat and Owen


~ by leakelley on August 18, 2008.

One Response to “Thank you for Other People’s Children”

  1. Thank for sharing

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