The temperament of a child is something I’ve always admired. To be carefree, with no worries; to be curious without judgment; to be daring without hesitation, a child’s joy is infectious; their love always unconditional, and their impact always so lasting.
Whether you’re a parent or not, the power of a child--their innocence in seeing the world, the simplicity in what they want—is something that’s hard to ignore. It gives us perspective to look closely at our own lives, and even in rare times, encourage us to live it better for their sake and ours. Therefore, to be in the presence of a child, whether they’re an infant or a full grown tween is something we must never take for granted. That essence of truth, that pure bliss that they always carry around with them is something that’s both precious and valuable.
And it’s this joy and truth in children that Debra Schoenberger was able to capture in her latest photographic book, To Be a Child. With her camera and her talent, she showcases children’s pure bliss during the most sacred childhood rituals—play. From ingenuity and creativity, to the imagination and fascination, the moments she captured not only warmed my heart, but made me want to be go back in time—when life was less complicated, when a cardboard box held so many possibilities, when crayons were an escape, and picture books were entertainment for hours.
The nostalgia in her work triggered moments in my childhood even more, but perhaps one of the most significant reasons I loved her book was the simple truth it portrays overall.
To be a Child is filled with one beautiful image after another, each a solid reminder of childhood’s fleeting existence. That ease, freedom, and innocence is a beautiful thing to possess, but it won’t last forever. Children grow, as they should. In fact, if we parents are lucky enough, they become bigger than we had anticipated, wiser than we had hoped, and kinder than we expected them to be. Therefore, this idea of play—that ingenuity, that creativity, will manifest into something bigger, broader, and more practical.
And that magic and sparkle of childhood will just be a faded memory; something we only wish to return to, but can never really get back.
In some sense, Schoenberger’s book title speaks volumes. She defines this notion of how to be a child in stolen moments and varied captures. But more importantly she reminds us all that to be that young and that at ease is short-lived, and we must cherish those moments with children, especially if they are our own, with much vigor and vitality, for they are precious and they are valuable.