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The Child As An Ideal

Categories: Uncategorized
Sources: Power Through Repose

WHILE the path of progress in the gaining of repose could not be

traced thus far without reference to the freedom of a baby, a fuller

consideration of what we may learn from this source must be of great

use to us.

The peace and freshness of a little baby are truly beautiful, but

are rarely appreciated. Few of us have peace enough in ourselves to

respond to these charms. It is like playing the softest melo
y upon

a harp to those whose ears have long been closed.

Let us halt, and watch, and listen, and see what we shall gain!

Throughout the muscular system of a normal, new-born baby it is

impossible to find any waste of force. An apparent waste will, upon

examination, prove itself otherwise. Its cry will at first seem to

cause contractions of the face; but the absolute removal of all

traces of contraction as the cry ceases, and a careful watching of

the act itself, show it to be merely an exaggeration of muscular

action, not a permanent contraction. Each muscle is balanced by an

opposing one; in fact, the whole thing is only a very even

stretching of the face, and, undoubtedly, has a purpose to


Examine a baby's bed, and see how distinctly it bears the impression

of an absolute giving up of weight and power. They actually _do_

that which we only theorize about, and from them we may learn it

all, if we will.

A babe in its bath gives us another fine opportunity for learning to

be simple and free. It yields to the soft pressure of the water with

a repose which is deeply expressive of gratitude; while we, in our

clumsy departures from Nature's state, often resist with such

intensity as not to know--in circumstances just as simply useful to

us--that we have anything for which to be grateful.

In each new experience we find it the same, the healthy baby yields,

_lets himself go,_ with an case which must double his chances for

comfort. Could we but learn to do so, our lives would lengthen, and

our joys and usefulness strengthen in exact proportion.

All through the age of unconsciousness, this physical freedom is

maintained even where the mental attitude is not free. Baby wrath is

as free and economical of physical force as are the winsome moods,

and this until the personality has developed to some extent,--that

is, _until the child reflects the contractions of those around him._

It expends itself in well-balanced muscular exercise, one set of

muscles resting fully in their moment of non-use, while another set

takes up the battle. At times it will seem that all wage war

together; if so, the rest is equal to the action.

It is not the purpose of this chapter to recommend anger, even of

the most approved sort; but if we will express the emotion at all,

let us do it as well as we did in our infancy!

Channels so free as this would necessitate, would lessen our

temptations to such expression; we, with mature intellects, would

see it for what it is, and the next generation of babies would less

often exercise their wonderfully balanced little bodies in such an

unlovely waste.

Note the perfect openness of a baby throat as the child coos out his

expression of happiness. Could anything be more free, more like the

song of a bird in its obedience to natural laws? Alas, for how much

must we answer that these throats are so soon contracted, the tones

changed to so high a pitch, the voice becoming so shrill and harsh!

Can we not open our throats and become as these little children?

The same _openness_ in the infant organism is the child's protection

in many dangers. Falls that would result in breaks, strains, or

sprains in us, leave the baby entirely whole save in its "feelings,"

and often there, too, if the child has been kept in the true state


Watch a baby take its food, and contrast it with our own ways of

eating. The baby draws it in slowly and evenly, with a quiet rhythm

which is in exact accord with the rhythmic action of its digestive

organs. You feel each swallow taken in the best way for repair, and

for this reason it seems sometimes as if one could see a baby grow

while feeding. There cannot be a lovelier glimpse of innocent

physical repose than the little respites from the fatigue of feeding

which a baby often takes. His face moist, with open pores, serene

and satisfied, he views the hurry about him as an interesting phase

of harmless madness. He is entirely outside of it until

self-consciousness is quite developed.

The sleep of a little child is another opportunity for us to learn

what we need. Every muscle free, every burden dropped, each breath

carries away the waste, and fills its place with the needed

substance of increasing growth and power.

In play, we find the same freedom. When one idea is being executed,

every other is excluded. They do not think _dolls_ while they roll


They do not think of work while they play. Examine and see how we do

both. The baby of one year, sitting on the shore burying his fat

hand in the soft warm sand, is for the time being alive _only_ to

its warmth and softness, with a dim consciousness of the air and

color about him. If we could engross ourselves as fully and with as

simple a pleasure, we should know far more of the possible power of

our minds for both work and rest.

It is interesting to watch normal children in these concentrations,

because from their habits we may learn so much which may improve our

own sadly different manner of living. It is also interesting but

pathetic to see the child gradually leaving them as he approaches

boyhood, and to trace our part in leading him away from the true


The baby's perfect placidity, caused by mental and bodily freedom,

is disturbed at a very early age by those who should be his true

guides. It would be impossible to say when the first wrong

impression is made, but it is so early that a true statement of the

time could only be accepted from scientific men. For mothers and

fathers have often so dulled their own sensitiveness, that they are

powerless to recognize the needs of their children, and their

impressions are, in consequence, untrustworthy.

At the time the pangs of teething begin, it is the same. The healthy

child left to itself would wince occasionally at the slight pricking

pain, and then turn its entire attention elsewhere, and thus become

refreshed for the next trial. But under the adult influence the

agony of the first little prick is often magnified until the result

is a cross, tired baby, already removed several degrees from the

beautiful state of peace and freedom in which Nature placed him

under our care.

The bodily freedom of little children is the foundation of a most

beautiful mental freedom, which cannot be wholly destroyed by us.

This is plainly shown by the childlike trust which they display in

all the affairs of life, and also in their exquisite responsiveness

to the spiritual truths which are taught to them. The very

expression of face of a little child as it is led by the hand is a

lesson to us upon which pages might be written.

Had we the same spirit dwelling in us, we more often should feel

ourselves led "beside the still waters," and made "to lie down in

green pastures." We should grow faster spiritually, because we

should not make conflicts for ourselves, but should meet with the

Lord's quiet strength whatever we had to pass through.

Let us learn of these little ones, and help them to hold fast to

that which they teach us. Let us remember that the natural and the

ideal are truly one, and endeavor to reach the latter by means of

the former.

When through hereditary tendency our little child is not

ideal,--that is, natural,--let us with all the more earnestness

learn to be quiet ourselves that we may lead him to it, and thus

open the channels of health and strength.