The Wonderment of Children: How Long Can It Last?

Photo by Isabel Rose Lysiak

Hilde Kate Lysiak poses with one of her community newspapers. Photo by Isabel Rose Lysiak

They were a mixed-match pair walking to school; the gray of their uniform skirts and jumpers contrasted nicely with the crimson sweaters they wore over white blouses. Just then, a strong wind gust blew against the crabapple tree they walked under. I watched as the face of the littlest one broke out into the widest grin, her eyes lighting up at this wondrous, warm snowfall that tickled her cheeks but unlike the cold one, didn’t wet her. All the while her sister, friend, protector gently tugged her arm, looking back, trying to keep them on their tight morning schedule.

It’s a joy to watch young children witness something that occurs so mundanely when it delights them so. To be able to capture the essence of that instance of innocence and unbridled joy and then bottle it and then distribute it to all of mankind would solve many of the world’s ills, I think. Except it’s incorruptibility not destined to be reclaimed by adults. Maybe that’s why some grownups get so angry when it seems children are ready and willing to cast their innocence aside at an early age. On the other hand, there might even be a growing acceptance of this loss of childhood wonderment.

I thought of a news story I’d read recently about 9-year-old Hilde Kate Lysiak of a small town in Pennsylvania. Along with her father, an ex-reporter for the New York Daily News and her 12-year-old sister, she produces the Orange Street News, a paper she’s published since 2014. She also has a You Tube channel and website.

The trouble began when young Hilde heard of a shooting in a nearby town and went to cover the story, along with her father and sibling. Once published, many felt that she shouldn’t have been allowed to do so; writing detractions on her Facebook page. Read the news story here.

Now I get it that parents want to promote anything their child is interested in, especially if it’s something they can parlay into an adult career later on. One of my questions: Where does Papa Lysiak’s expertise and input stop and his daughters’ begin? Not that it matters; it is her show after all. I can’t help but find it telling that he used to work for the Daily News but doesn’t anymore. He mentioned that her love of journalism began after he took her, and her older sister Isabel Rose, to work with him a few times. “They asked lots of questions”, their father said. I wonder.

Still, that he assists them in their endeavors is understandable, even laudable. It’s even reasonable that a child’s cavalier excursions into adulthood would make full-fledged adults, who may happen to be parents’ themselves, cringe. I get it all, except for one little thing; Hilde’s response to her attackers.

Now in all fairness, some of the comments against Hilde were harsh, even sexist and unsuitable for critiquing a child but one in particular, I thought was appropriate. The Indiana Gazette reported that Anne Carter, a licensed practical nurse living in Selinsgrove commented, “I think she’s very talented and her aspirations are great, but it’s probably a bigger case than a nine-year-old should handle.”

To all of her detractors, Hilde replied, “I know this makes some of you uncomfortable and I know some of you just want me to sit down and be quiet because I’m 9. But if you want me to stop covering news then get off your computer and do something about the news. There, is that cute enough for you?”

Kicking the Childhood Can

Hilde went from early, innocent yet inquisitive kid to a snarky, seen-all-I’m-going-to-see-and-I’m-jaded-already adult. And it only took her seven words to do so. Of course, I again wonder how much of her response can be attributed to Papa Lysiak. I couldn’t help but notice a level of sarcasm not usually found in one so young, I’m just saying.

Still, I’m wondering how much more of this we’ll continue to see. Everywhere you look, young people, children, are delving into business successfully and putting adults to shame in the process. What will the future bring? My parents used to always tell me to have things to look forward to as an adult. The saying, you have your whole life ahead of you may not mean so much anymore, especially as kids put an entire life’s worth of living in their few years of childhood.

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