By Mike Pinto, IPLI Mentor & Principal at James Cole Elementary School in Lafayette, IN
The puppy came to visit in the office the other day. It was supposed to be a quick visit because students had been promised as reward for their efforts or follow-through that a few moments would be allowed to pet, hold, and offer love to the young dog. In the end, the puppy stayed all day and in the process, reminded us all that children are born “Good”.
Like gravity pulling a dropped item to earth, it is rare for a child to walk by a puppy and not be drawn to it. What follows are pats on the head, requests to hold, and comments like, “It’s so cute.” Children love puppies and puppies love the attention.
Have you ever had one of those moments when you finish a task and are just about to move onto the next one when the phone rings, someone enters the room and starts a conversation, or some other distraction keeps you from taking the next step? It happened when the puppy visited. All day long, adults and children would walk by and all day long the same pattern of affection and love would occur. Just when it looked like there would be time to take the puppy home, another child would walk up and before long, a congregation of adults and children would be making over it with love and affection. So the puppy stayed and that was just fine.
The puppy served as a reminder to us all that children are born ‘Good’. Children at a young age have a caring capacity that is large and overflowing. Their souls in some way are perfect like Michelangelo’s sculpture David. The puppy’s magnetism exhibited that again and again. Each child’s actions toward the puppy were ones of kindness and caring. This ‘Good’ extends beyond puppies. Children don’t see differences in each other. They are accepting of different skin colors, ethnicities, and disabilities. They see others as simply that, ‘Others’. As children grow, they develop and mature. What happens is an awareness of their surroundings and differences around them. One could say that nature is responsible for this awareness. I give some credence to that theory. However, I think adults, their biases, and their own experiences chisel into the perfection of children’s souls and taint what is wonderful and unblemished. While good still remains, it is not as pure and pristine as it once was — which makes our efforts with children all the more important in our day-to-day lives. The puppy came the other day for a quick visit and stayed for the duration. He brought many smiles and many good feelings with him. He also did something else. He reminded us that children are born ‘Good’. It is our job to protect the perfection of this ‘Good’ for as long as we can through our own actions toward children and toward each other. It’s really that simple.