By LaMonique Hamilton
I love the way children think.
So often, it’s not adults, authority figures or even church that provide needed perspective when I am struggling through a difficult moment or navigating my way to a course correction after making a mistake. It’s something a child says that instantly illuminates the path and brings about clarity.
There’s something to be said for being unjaded, for not knowing anything about religion, politics or social injustice. There’s something beautiful about greeting each day with the unbridled enthusiasm that comes when there’s no worry about money, health or responsibilities.
There are no agendas with children (except possibly during the holidays or birthdays when there’s a special gift they have been eyeing). They love fully. The answers are simple.
I wonder how often they look at us, the caretakers and alleged keepers of the answers they don’t yet have, and wonder why we make everything so hard. At what point does our care, caution and concern turn into an excuse to not meet our problems with hope and expectation?
I recently saw an exchange between a mother and her young son that made me pause. My day had been filled with bad news, rejection of ideas and obstacles that further hindered already glacially slow-moving work. The son told his mom that he keeps “emergency” confetti in his pocket in case there was good news.
I thought about the last time I actually prepared myself for good news. Preparing for good news is vastly different from knowing a positive outcome is a possibility. I have to admit, even as an optimist, I often stop short of preparing for good news for fear of being let down.
It’s so much easier to prepare for bad news. We’re conditioned to do that. We’re taught to keep the first aid kit on hand and to purchase the insurance policy. Our parents, likely afraid that we will throw their empty nest plans out of whack, tell us to save money for a rainy day.
I’m a practical person. Preparing for worst-case scenarios has been my saving grace more than once. I have a few first aid kits, insurance policies and a savings account. As an adult, I know that things don’t always turn out the way you hoped.
But what’s wrong with taking a bit of that energy to prepare for the best-case scenario? What does it hurt to believe, even just a little, that there may be a reason to celebrate? After all, God specializes in eleventh-hour breakthroughs.
We still have to be protectors of innocence. We have to be realistic about the dangers ahead and make decisions that sometimes run contrary to childhood ideology. Like God does with us, we will have to disappoint our children sometimes in order to make sure their future is as bright as possible.
But as they learn more about navigating the world from us, perhaps we can learn to lean in to hope, to prepare for the best from them.
Keep the confetti in your pocket. Keep the mustard seed faith in your spirit. The best is yet to come.
LaMonique Hamilton is a Wilson resident and former Times reporter and copy editor. She is the national deputy director of communications for Repairers of the Breach and the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and blogs about arts and culture at iamlamonique.com.