The baby’s perfect placidity, caused by mental and bodily freedom, is disturbed at a very early age by those who should be his true guides. It would be impossible to say when the first wrong impression is made, but it is so early that a true statement of the time could only be accepted from scientific men. For mothers and fathers have often so dulled their own sensitiveness, that they are powerless to recognize the needs of their children, and their impressions are, in consequence, untrustworthy.
At the time the pangs of teething begin, it is the same. The healthy child left to itself would wince occasionally at the slight pricking pain, and then turn its entire attention elsewhere, and thus become refreshed for the next trial. But under the adult influence the agony of the first little prick is often magnified until the result is a cross, tired baby, already removed several degrees from the beautiful state of peace and freedom in which Nature placed him under our care.
The bodily freedom of little children is the foundation of a most beautiful mental freedom, which cannot be wholly destroyed by us. This is plainly shown by the childlike trust which they display in all the affairs of life, and also in their exquisite responsiveness to the spiritual truths which are taught to them. The very expression of face of a little child as it is led by the hand is a lesson to us upon which pages might be written.
Had we the same spirit dwelling in us, we more often should feel ourselves led “beside the still waters,” and made “to lie down in green pastures.” We should grow faster spiritually, because we should not make conflicts for ourselves, but should meet with the Lord’s quiet strength whatever we had to pass through.
Let us learn of these little ones, and help them to hold fast to that which they teach us. Let us remember that the natural and the ideal are truly one, and endeavor to reach the latter by means of the former.
When through hereditary tendency our little child is not ideal,—that is, natural,—let us with all the more earnestness learn to be quiet ourselves that we may lead him to it, and thus open the channels of health and strength.
TRAINING FOR REST
BUT how shall we gain a natural repose? It is absurd to emphasize the need without giving the remedy. “I should be so glad to relax, but I do not know how,” is the sincere lament of many a nervously strained being.
There is a regular training which acts upon the nervous force and teaches its proper use, as the gymnasium develops the muscles. This, as will be easily seen, is at first just the reverse of vigorous exercise, and no woman should do powerful muscular work without learning at the same time to guide her body with true economy of force. It is appalling to watch the faces of women in a gymnasium, to see them using five,