By Naghem S.
¡Feliz Día del Niño! Happy Día del Niño!
Today is Día del Niño (Day of the Child). Día del Niño is a national holiday in Mexico celebrated every year on April 30th. It is a day where families and communities celebrate their children. Children are an important part of our society and we should focus on their well being. This day is about accepting and appreciating children and celebrating their childhood.
Every living adult was once a child with stories to tell. With time, it seems like we forget we were ever children. Sometimes, if I listen really really hard, I can hear my inner child talk to me. She likes to tell stories about growing up and she misses her childhood home, even though it wasn’t always a happy one. My inner child doesn’t come out much but when she does, she is a joy to witness.
I asked my colleagues to share some of their childhood stories in honor of Día del Niño. Here are some of what was shared.
What did you love about your childhood?
“When I was a kid, I knew the world was big and I was a small part of it and I couldn't wait to explore.”
“My family and my imagination”
“I was brave, oh so brave to try new things. I usually ended up getting in trouble because sometimes being brave meant doing something I wasn’t supposed to do. I still get in trouble for doing things I’m not “supposed” to do.”
“Growing up in Ethiopia, one of my favorite memories revolves around listening to my all-time favorite storyteller, Tesfaye Sahlu, also known as Ababa Tesfaye! Aired on the state ran TV station, Ethiopian TV, Ababa Tesfaye's show was dedicated to children's stories (preschool to primary). What made this program even more compelling, at least for me, was the inclusion of imagery that was drawn for each story being shared. Ababa Tesfaye's signature catchphrase "Lijoch Yezare Abebawoch Yenege Freywoch" (roughly translated as "Children! Today's flowers, tomorrow's fruit!") were always the words that brought happiness to me and a countless number of children! Sadly, Ababa Tesfaye passed away on July 31, 2017, at the age of 94. A national icon, Ababa Tesfaye's name brings rich memories, a smile, and laughter to Ethiopians!”
What childhood story would you like to share?
“When I was five years old, my mother was drafted by the United States Naval Reserve to the frontlines of Operation Desert Storm in Bahrain. While some children grow up playing with dolls and action figures, I remember pretending to be a spy with my backyard neighbor & best friend, out on a mission to “go rescue mom from Saddam Hussein.” Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about collective trauma (racism, sexism, poverty, historical inequities, pandemics, wars) and how it ripples into every corner of our identity. In these times, how can one not? Do children these days pretend to be little epidemiologists, searching for ways to rescue their adults from COVID-19?”
““I haven’t figured a whole lot out, though of the things that I have...it’s all about love.” This is something Dad told me the last time I saw him in person, and I have to believe it. These memories, now all I have left of him, are proof. I think about how they’ve made me the person I am today, and I can’t help wondering how such large, tragic forces as the ones we witness daily will affect who today’s children grow up to be. I have to keep believing that while there will always be inner and outer struggles we can't quite understand, there will also always always be love somewhere, and that it is worth holding tightly onto.”
“When I was four or five my grandfather gave me a chicken to raise. Every morning, I would wake up early to collect the eggs from my chicken. One morning, I couldn’t find any eggs and I got so scared because I thought my chicken was sick. Turns out my aunt, who had just given birth to my cousin, had collected that day’s eggs and made herself some breakfast. I never forgave her for that.”
To my fellow adults, I encourage you to take a minute and listen to what your inner child is telling you. Let them out, if only for a few minutes, and learn from them. Remember to celebrate and protect the children in your life. Offer words of encouragement, praise often, and if you notice something is wrong, ask them about it.
I can’t end this blog without encouraging everyone to learn more about the Southern US Border Humanitarian Crisis. More than 23,000 migrant children are in US government custody. Many activists report that these children are kept in unsafe living conditions. There are problems with overcrowding, lack of hygiene facilities and health care access, as well as food shortages. Many of these children have been separated from family members.
Día del Niño is a day to celebrate all children, including the ones at the border.