Enjoying one of my last weekends before school starts, I marveled as my son played on the river side. He was collecting "seaweed". My first thoughts were to tell him to stop because of how gross I thought it was, but I bit my tongue. I began to think to myself when did I develop a fear of icky seaweed. Then it hit me. I did not develop a fear. I lost the curiosity that my son was exhibiting. A curiosity that was at the forefront of his inhibitions and fears. Just think. The first time a baby sees anything, the baby's first instinct is to reach out and touch it. Even a buzzing bee would entice a baby's curiosity. Typically, fear develops through an adult's panicky response. This is how curiosity is traditionally stifled, by prior expectations and guidance. Curiosity is meant to flow free. Its path is determine by its next question, not someone else's expectations of where it should go.
As I watched him gather handful after handful of the stuff, my mind fast forwarded into this year. He is entering kindergarten. How much of his curiosity will he lose during his first year of becoming career and college ready? How much did my wife and I take away from him to get him ready for kindergarten? How much would I have took from him if I yelled down to him "Stop playing with that, that's gross"? After these thoughts, I returned to my roots. I put my camera down and joined my son. I picked up some of the seaweed and marveled at the squishy texture that was feeding his curiosity. I threw it down on a rock and it plopped. I turned to my son and as we shared a laugh I wondered "Why isn't there a standard to protect this?"