April 25, 2022

Is Childhood a Losing of Paradise?

Jane Larner

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written word. photographParadise Lost in a School Playground, 2022

We like to think of children as happy, childhood as idyllic. We invest so much personally and as a society to try to effect these ideals. But I believe childhood is the loss of paradise: with every bite of the apple of knowledge children become more adult, more aware of the real world. It can be a terrifying process – violence and arguments in the home, bullying in the playground or through social media, news of war on TV, and all the while powerless to act or articulate fear or protest. The adult longing for paradise for our children can blind us to how hard many children find childhood. My poem explores the process of the loss of innocence, the paradise of not knowing. The accompanying image is of a drawing in my local school playground. The chalk outline of a child, with “help” written beside it, was brushed away the next day, along with all the other drawings of pink balloons and scrawled words. But I thought that image looked like a crime scene body outline, with a cry for help – incongruous in a primary school playground, or maybe not?