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What makes a day, a morning or an evening a pleasant one?

With eight grandchildren on earth and one in heaven, and countless other children God brings into my presence daily, I can easily say that one thing that makes my days, mornings and evenings pleasant is the presence of children. I wonder if we fully appreciate the privilege we have to walk alongside them as they grow.

I also wonder if we attune ourselves to the lessons they can teach us.

What a marvelous idea that God made Adam and Eve as the only two people to start and end life as adults. Imagine a world of only adults! How much we would have missed without the delight and childlike wisdom that children bring into this world.

In 50 years of teaching, I have found that children often are my greatest teachers. When I take a moment to view life through their eyes, I am better equipped to discern their ideas and dreams, and to learn from them.

Our oldest granddaughter just got braces for her teeth and soon realized that playing the flute with braces is rather challenging. Her 11-year-old brother dances to a certain musician and mimics the artist’s facial expressions and body movements in a way that brings gales of laughter. His cousin who is three months younger can play basketball until the cows come home. Their nine-year-old cousin can name hundreds of baseball stars.

Meanwhile, the basketball player’s sister makes flower houses that stir the imagination. The baseball player’s seven-year-old brother has been whistling beautifully since he was two. His four-year-old sister has lively talks on her toy cell phone. Her recently-turned-three cousin implores repeatedly when I push him in the playground swing, “Tickle me, push faster, one more time!”

Who knows what budding talents are lurking in these little people, waiting to be unleashed?

I wish I had written down more of the things my own children said growing up and the lessons that went with them. There are a few I’ll never forget. Once, a lady at the store told our oldest son, as he pointed at one treat after another, “That’s a no-no.” Later, he looked up at me and said, “I want a no-no.” His younger brother told me at four years of age that the reason I had finally calmed down after a vase crashed to the floor was because “now you are used to it.” Their younger sister once said she wanted to sing “the creature below song,” otherwise known as the Doxology: “praise Him all creatures here below.”

Children are a gift from the Lord. What should we be learning from their childlike ways?

One day our eldest son and I were talking philosophically about what makes people happy. We decided each of us would think of the happiest person we knew. After a moment we each had our name. Almost simultaneously we both said, “Jane!” His daughter was two at the time. Jane never worried about what would happen next or if she would be fed. She was content, rarely angry or dissatisfied, and joyful in almost every circumstance.

Our youngest grandchild’s words at our recent playground experience still make me smile. As I’d swing him back and he’d come forward, he’d tense up all over and squeal with an adorable grin, “Tickle me!” When the sun began to set and I told him we had to leave, he pleaded, “One more time!” Who could resist this request of one who finds joy in the simplest pleasures?

Last night as our seven-year-old grandson Sebastian was perusing photos on his father’s iPad, he commented on different ones, giving them brief titles. He came to the photo of the 300-pound, 25-foot long tree branch that crashed through the roof of our home one recent morning. The branch missed us by inches as we lay sleeping. Our dog Russell woke me up just before the branch penetrated our bedroom ceiling.

Sebastian pensively looked at the picture and pronounced it “An Unpleasant Morning.” Then he went on to the next photo, oblivious to the smile he had created on my face and in my heart.

I was moved by his ability to capture that event in so few words. Sebastian himself had been through so much in his short life, and for this child in particular to label our near-death experience so poignantly caused me to wonder.

May God help us all to experience the wonder so often found in the presence of children.

(Read Sebastian’s story: