This famous and oft-quoted proverb coined by William Wordsworth in his poem ‘My Heart Leaps Up’ in 1802 was used in reference to the thought that values , learning and teachings assimilated at a young age continues to inspire and ignite even in the adulthood years of life. It is our experience in our childhood which frames us in our adulthood years.
Just as morning gives the hint for what lies ahead in the day, similarly childhood gives us the peek to the later years in a person’s life. Good values, thoughts, and habits inculcated in infancy shall inspire and motivate a person to lead life of discipline in his matured years and make him a solid pillar of a asset and strength to his family, community and nation.
Childhood is the most critical and integral part of life. The teachings, the learning and the experiences gained at this stage of life leaves behind an ever lasting impression on the impressionable minds. The first seven years of life are the most absorbing years. If the right seeds are sown then the harvest shall be likewise.
The first school for any child is his home and the observances and learning acquired in the most natural surrounding are the most everlasting ones. Apart from his home, the next best origin of learning and awareness is the school and it is there that children enhance their bank of knowledge and virtues which they bring to use in the later phase of life.
By the time, a person reaches the age of seven years, his character is more or less already formed and he begins to offer glimpses of how he would turn up as a man. A child is giving, generous and spontaneous and it is thus that his transition to adulthood in the desirable manner can be achieved. The child is the seed from which gushes forth the adult man.
An alternative and frequent interpretation of the proverb lies in the fact that we as adults try to teach a lot of things to our children but there are scores of things, left undocumented and unsaid which our children teaches us. They teach us the joy of unadulterated laughter, the gratification of absolute love with no conditions, the ability to forgive and forget, so essential to happiness and simple spontaneous things which we lose touch of in our daily grind of everyday life.
Another interpretation could be today’s children shall be the father of the generations which would matter tomorrow. Hence the values, ethics and learning passed on to them shall not only mould them but also pass on to the coming generations and mould an entire nation, an entire world in the bargain.
Whatever be the interpretation, it is true that childhood is the most blissful phase of one’s life when one comes with no pre-conceived notions and no inherent foibles. It is the phase where one can be taught the right values and ethics and made to retain his spontaneity of thought and joy which in turn could inspire adults to be more generous, forgiving and better human beings.