Schooled by a Six Year Old

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; children have so much to teach us. They may drive me to the point of pulling out my hair or get me to the point where I use that dangerously soft voice when really I want to yell, “The chime rung! Did you not hear it?! C’mon!” But honestly, I am humbled in so many ways working with them. Their fearlessness and confidence in who they are and what they want to do, to the point where they don’t take no for an answer, is (in some cases, not all), exemplary and inspiring.

In our world travel unit, where we are currently in Spain, we have been studying Gaudi. Today, their project was to decorate a spiral in a fashion similar to Gaudi, whether it be using items from nature, or doing something like a mosaic. One of our boys, who is incredibly introverted and yet will talk the teachers’ ears off about art and his art supplies at home, was working diligently on his spiral, measuring inch by painstaking inch to divide his spiral into pieces. Halfway through the spiral he was struck by artist’s block and came to me,  unsure of how to continue decorating his square.

I pointed out some books he could use for inspiration and sure enough, a few minutes later, he finds a page that has these beautiful spiral shaped seashells that look nice and glossy and shiny. He said to me, “I want to make my spiral gold and shiny.” I’m embarrassed to say that, in retrospect, my response was quite dismissive. I told him we were using markers and they weren’t too sparkly, so it’d be hard to do. He tried again saying he had metallic markers at home he could use. I was dismissive once again and told him that he had to leave the project at school and finish it today in time to hang for Grandparent’s Day tomorrow. As he frowned at me I told him to choose a gray color or think of another way to decorate the spiral.

This little boy flat out refuses to take no for an answer or be swayed from his goal. After some thought, he gets a piece of yellow scrap paper, a yellow crayon, a yellow marker, and starts to color in a rectangular strip with the two medias. He holds it up to me proudly and says, “I made gold!” But he doesn’t stop there. Completely of his own accord and with all of the amazing originality he has shown since the beginning of the year, he gets scotch tape and places it over the rectangle. Next thing I know he comes over to me, in his quiet yet proud of himself way, and shows me that he made a strip of shiny gold. He taped it onto his spiral and was so happy with his work, having found a way, when he was told it wasn’t possible, to accomplish his goal.

Shiny spiral.

Shiny spiral, evidence of a never give up attitude.

“A strong determination is not something that changes or shifts with momentary feelings or emotions. Neither is a great vow. Great things are only accomplished with resolve or commitment to continue challenging oneself, taking one step forward after another, no matter what.” -Daisaku Ikeda, World Tribune, April 12, p 5

It’s funny the timing of every single experience I go through each day, and how they relate to the deeper, internal revolution I am working through. I only recently have realized how easily I am swayed by others, undermining my own capacity,independence and wisdom. But here is this little boy, who I have seen through the eyes of a teacher and adult, with seemingly more experience, who has taught me what it means to stand your ground when you have a vision you are determined to see through.

The thing is, it is so easy to be swayed. There are so many limitations that we set upon ourselves, that we’ve forgotten how to even  dream. There is a habitual and almost compulsive need to rationalize everything we do. The joy of simply doing something to do something is fading. Why learn a language you will never use/will not come in handy in the business world/is only spoken in one country? Why pick up a new instrument when there are seven year olds out there, playing better than you probably ever will? Why study this subject matter, that, while close to your heart, does not have any relation to a stable career? Not to mention that we have forgotten how to (or have never been taught how to) question the answers or information presented to us. When we run up against someone or something preventing us from reaching our goal, we rarely stop to question it and think of alternative and creative routes. We are too quickly deflated to even pause and realize that, if we’re serious about it and it is something important to us, then we should give our all to find a way, and follow through.


This sloth lost one of his arms after being electrocuted. People seem to question his ability to climb trees with one arm, but I saw with my own eyes the incredible strength he has because he only has 3 limbs.

Maybe I’m being too harsh, or projecting my own ish on society, but I do see others’ around me who are in that situation…distracting themselves with inane things, unsure of how to dream, or unable to create ways of doing that which they want to do.

“When you’re determination changes, everything will begin to move in the direction you desire. The moment you resolve to be victorious, every nerve and fiber in your being will immediately orient itself toward your success. On the other hand, if you think, “This is never going to work out,” then at that instant every cell in your being will deflate and give up the fight.” -Daisaku Ikeda,

I think part of it, for me at least, in moving forward and taking those chances, is having the faith that everything will work out as it should. And also knowing that your victory doesn’t solely lie in the end goal, but in the effort that you put forth on your way to accomplishing that goal. We have to remember to stretch ourselves, expand our lives, and really question our belief of what is possible.

 It’s time to credit ourselves with the innate potential we truly have. It’s time to wake up to the value, beauty, and vast potential of life. It’s time to shake the universe to its core.


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