‘have a childhood of the mind no less than a childhood of the body’.*
Over these past months of homeschooling, missed exams, changing criteria and restricting lockdowns my thoughts have gone back to a book by Dickens that I studied at university called Hard Times.
I know a lot of people have a ‘hard time’ (no pun intended) reading Dickens, but in fact there are a lot of ideas in his work that still resonate today. Hard Times deals with the heavy reality of industrialisation overcoming lighter tendencies towards imagination and childhood.
It didn’t take long before I saw the care-free spirit in my children being choked by the new rules grim-faced adults on the TV set for the entire population, the ban on hugs with your friends and tea with your grannies. These days, nothing seems to surprise them and there are definitely more sighs than smiles.
Joy, for all our children, is seeping away. I keep on casting around to find ways to bring it back, but when you’re feeling pretty weighed down yourself, it’s hard to do.
It snowed today. All of a sudden child-like delight took over, not just in children but in put-upon dads and Facebook posting mums. Finally, unexpected joy has taken hold of us all. When I looked out this morning I kept saying ‘oh!’ over and over like I was a wee girl again. The children’s dad said he’d start the snowman and then just kept going. My father-in-law built not one but three snowmen by himself for himself in his back garden.
You see, there is a child in all of us, and if we find it, we’re more able to help our children re-discover it too. Even without the snow.
*Charles Dickens, Hard Times