It Has Always Been Like This

Out in the street, the kids are playing and screaming. They’re throwing balls and sharing toys. They’re climbing trees and splashing in the water, getting their clothes dirty, putting themselves in danger. They’re blowing bubbles and banging on drums. It’s noisy and insane, sweet and overwhelming.

As the writers of When You Wonder You’re Learning point out, this is a scene that has been happening literally for centuries. And they have proof: Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Children’s Games happens to capture children doing exactly that in 1560. As it was in the Middle Ages, so it is today. So it will always be.

We told the story a while back of those footprints in White Sands National Park. We’ve pointed to Seneca’s beautiful observation about children building sand castles at the beach. There’s a sign from ancient times whose inscription more or less reads, “Kids these days…” This thing we’re doing as parents, that they’re doing as kids? It goes way back. Literally to the beginning of time. The survival of the species dictates it.

Knowing this doesn’t make those scenes in the street any less chaotic or sleepless nights with your toddler any easier, but it should give you some perspective. This is a big thing that you’re a small part of, just as any one interaction or moment is a small part of many in a life. It’s always been crazy and hard and baffling. Yet people have figured it out, they’ve survived.

And so will you. And so will you.

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