your friendly neighborhood babysitter

As your friendly neighborhood babysitter, I spend a good bit of time with children. Earlier today, I was watching a precocious six year old boy (let’s call him Michael), and he suggested that we write poetry together. Imagine that: a first grader actually wanting to write poetry on his day off school. (Similarity #1: a love of poetry)

As a poet and proponent of educational pastimes, I supported his initiative. We laid on our stomachs on his living room carpet, pencils and colored paper scattered around us, and spent over an hour writing and revising. I was amazed by Michael’s ability to focus—it exceeded some of my college-aged classmates’. Not to mention, his poetry was quite creative, despite the occasional mention of farts. We wrote acrostic poetry, free verse, and rhyme.

After we finished, I decided to ask him questions about himself, “like an interview.” I was genuinely curious about Michael. I’ve come to the conclusion that adults don’t realize how similar they are to children. And, honestly, they should.

First, I asked him about his favorite activity. He said he loved to play outside. I don’t gallivant around with sticks and garden tools, but I do love the outdoors as well. (Similarity #2) Then, I asked him what made him happy.

“Being with my family.”

What a wonderful answer. I followed up by asking what makes him sad. He responded:

“When school is cancelled.” (Similarity #3)

My jaw almost dropped. What a remarkable six year old, I thought. I went on to ask him what words he used to describe himself.

“Fun, happy, smart, tall, hyper, silly, and playful.”

I asked him what he is good at.

“Math, writing, numbers, and science”

All the important things. But wait—it gets better. I asked why he was good at them.

“Because I like them.”

A six year old with a growth mindset. And an extremely positive self image. I love everything about it. I love, love, love Michael’s optimistic outlook, and I wish more adults could view themselves and the world the way he does. With hope. And determination. If only we could approach challenges with alacrity and tackle them with such joy… If only we had the courage to believe in ourselves.

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