Welcome the Children home from school. Invite them into the kitchen, to plunge their hands into soapy water and to wash the forks. Let them break eggshells into the batter and pick out the pieces. Let them poke the muffins with a toothpick. Let them lick the spoon. The bowl. Let them walk around for hours with a chocolate mustache, and teach them how to wet a washcloth and to clean their face in a mirror. Offer them lessons in folding laundry, cleaning the toilet, wiping down the windows. Invite them to participate in your life.
Welcome the Children. Let them wave at your boss in the Zoom meeting. Teach them that they need to be wearing clothes if they are going to appear on a video screen. But let them wear their clothes backwards, inside out. Let them wear princess costumes and makeup and build pillow forts that appear in the background of your calls with investors and clients.
Welcome the Children. Climb into the forts with them, and let them invite you into a world of wonder and imagination.
Welcome the Children home for the summer. For the fall semester. For the entire day. The month. The year. This invitation to togetherness is once-in-a-lifetime. Maybe a chance to learn how to do “family” a little different – to be a little more present to life unfolding. Let them know you are glad to have the chance to spend so much time together.
Welcome the Children into the living room, the study, the kitchen, the garden, your bedroom in the middle of the night. Let them wake you at dawn, and hang out in the bathroom while you….
Invite them to stay and stay and stay. Be there with them, as if you really mean it.
Welcome the Children, over and over and over and over again. Linger at bedtime. Read extra stories. Share your own stories of growing up and tell them about your day, your dreams, your hopes, what you wish for them, for the world. Every day, share “Roses and Thorns”, or highs and lows, and listen. Really listen. Listen without judging or responding or offering advice. Listen as if this is the only opportunity to hear. Listen as if you might never get to listen again.
Maybe even listen as if you, yourself are that tender child. What was it like to tell mama about your day? Can you remember?
Can you remember longing to be heard and seen and known – reaching out for a connection, for touch, for a rare moment of your busy parents’ attention?
Welcome the Children who still live within each of us. The child who cries, laughs, sings, dances inside. Welcome your own little one who just wants to please their parents. Welcome the sweet one inside who just wants to pick flowers, and catch butterflies, and throw rocks in the river. Welcome the ballerina who just wants to dance. The explorer who sees a universe in a grain of sand. The superhero who flies from couch to couch, cape waving in the wind, and saves the day when the floor is lava.
Welcome the Children into the uncertainty. Let them come with us into the unknown. Welcome their big emotions. Their sadness. Their stuckness. Their loneliness. Welcome them home to themselves and to their family again and again.
We can never have too many reminders that we belong.
Let the children teach us how to reframe our negative thoughts. Let them help us open to living in a world where “uncertainty” becomes possibility. Where “fear” becomes adventure. Where “instability” becomes flexibility. Where the plunge into certain doom is an adrenaline-filled roller coaster ride and screaming at the top of your lungs is part of the fun.
Remember the thrill of running full speed down a hill?
Yes, these times are uncertain, and filled with challenges. Yes, there is tremendous instability and big, looming questions around survival and livelihood and sustainability of human life on earth. The threat is real. And so too is our resilience and our strength.
In our post-traumatic growth we are learning to care for each other. To connect inwardly and outwardly. To break down systems of oppression and divisive structures that keep us from allowing ourselves to be fully human.
And the children are home from school, playing while we squint at computer screens with our therapists and doctors and bosses, and mute ourselves so no one hears the dog barking, or the baby crying.
The children are here now, all the time. Needing their parents, asking them to get down on the ground and roll around, play, tickle, snuggle, while we also juggle writing business plans and financial statements, and taxes.
And there is nothing wrong with them being here for all of it. We don’t actually need to make them go away. We can welcome them into our lives now in ways that haven’t been possible before. We can invite them to stay.
We can stop pushing for them to go back to school so that we can go back to work. We can reimagine parenting. Education. Working. Livelihood.
We can do it differently.
We can Welcome the Children home. We can invite them to help us remember how to play, even if it isn’t always easy. They can teach us how to wonder. How to dream.
Draw with them. Paint. Be “kitty”. Throw sticks and climb trees. And welcome your inner child to be a part of your human family. Honor what your little once decided was the way of the world. Acknowledge the strength and logic of the strategies you once developed to navigate a difficult landscape. This is the chance of a lifetime. Of a generation! Today, right now, you can recommit to being the parent you didn’t get to have.
Most of all, Welcome the Children home so that they know they are not a burden. Let them know they are not in the way. They are not a problem because they are around. They are not invading your space.
They are not interrupting your life. They are your life.
Welcome the Children. They are your creation. Your blood. Your legacy. Let them know they are not separate from you but they are you! In this world of physical isolation, illness, upheaval, and the vast unknown, we can still welcome the children. We can ensure that if they learn anything at all during this pandemic, during this Great Turning, that they learn that they are wanted. Let them know that they are loved.
Welcome the Children.
Make space for giggles and cries and requests for snacks in your board meetings. Make room for mothers and fathers who are still doing it all.
Welcome the Children to a world where parents can be there to comfort their scared toddler in a thunderstorm without jeopardizing a promotion. They can jump up to change a diaper without compromising a deal.
And Welcome the Children into outdoor spaces. Invite them into a deep relationship with nature. We can welcome innocence, grief, love, and humanness in all its forms by engaging deeply in relationship with the more-than-human world.
Welcome the Children to explore the earth like never before. Let them become kings and queens of the high valleys and the forests and deserts and canyons. Let them fall in love with the land.
Welcome them to press their hands and feet deep into the moist rich soil. To push seeds into the earth and to pour water on delicate sprouts. Let them watch a plant grow. Let them linger with their gaze on the sunset. Find shapes in the clouds. Open their mouths to raindrops falling from the sky.
And get curious. Ask them, what colors do you see? What does it feel like? What do you hear? What is that tree (moth, rock, river) telling you? Let them bring into their world of simple pleasure and childhood delight. Let them teach you how to talk to the earth. To the sky. To the wind. Slow down, and follow their footsteps down the trail, without pushing them towards a fixed destination.
Sleep outside together. Wake in the middle of the night to search the sky for comets or to name the planets and constellations that you see. Collect rocks and pinecones and treasures. Build fairy houses.
We were all children once. Can you re-member what it was like and invite that child to come alive again in this adult body?
Let them awaken within you and infuse the adventures and challenges of your life with a spirit of curiosity, play, and adventure!
Welcome the Children into the role of teacher and guide. Let them lead us all into a more deeply connected way of being alive and being human.
What would happen if we truly allowed ourselves to slow down as nature is asking us to do?
What kind of world might we create if we can Welcome the Children, and let them set the pace for a while?