If you’ve read the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, you know that time and again things go terribly wrong for the Ingalls family. And of all the books, On the Banks of Plum Creek contains the greatest misfortunes for America’s favorite pioneer family.
I had read the whole series aloud with my older daughter when she was five, cuddling on the couch for hours as her little brother slept. Now I felt it was time to introduce the series to my middle children, currently 5 and 8. Since finding time to read aloud is a bit harder with four kids, we’ve been listening to the series as audiobooks in the car.
We were listening to On the Banks of Plum Creek on the way to piano lessons, and we had just heard the scene that I had dreaded (spoiler alert!): the grasshoppers descend like a plague and devour the Ingalls’ wheat crop and every other green thing for miles. I parked the car, and as the kids began to trundle out of it with their piano books, my oldest daughter (10) asked me, “Remember the most horrible thing that happens next?”
I didn’t. I thought the most horrible thing had already happened. Grasshoppers eating all your food and livelihood is, after all, pretty terrible. In fact, from my grown-up perspective, this was certainly the most horrible thing that could happen!
But a child’s perspective is different.
“What’s the most horrible thing?” I asked her.
She leaned close to whisper to me, “Pa has to leave to find work. And his boots have holes in them!”
The difference in perspective between an adult and a child struck me like a wall. To me, Pa leaving to find work was a solution! A way out of the horrible situation of being without food or a way to earn an income. To her, and likely to the child Laura, Pa leaving was the tragedy. She could deal with dire circumstances so long as the family unit remained whole.
When I step back and think about it, the child’s perspective may be a better one. Think of it spiritually. God is our Father, and so long as He is with us, we don’t need to worry so much about outside circumstances.
Perhaps children know this innately. They place their trust in people, in their parents, in God, rather than in their possessions.
I think we all could stand to see the world through a child’s eyes.
Matthew 18:3 “And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'” (NIV)
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