I debated whether or not I should say no. I did not want to deal with mud on my floors and another three changes of clothing per child. As I struggled between my own desire and frustration such a mess could bring, I asked myself, “What could it hurt?” A little more laundry never hurt anyone. A dirty floor can be washed – again.” In the end the joy of watching the children play nicely and creatively won over. “Let them be kids,” I thought. “Childhood goes by too quickly to put too many restrictions on creative play.” So, I let them dig for the center of the earth. It was a spot in the yard hidden behind a few bushes near the stream. I could see them gathered around in excitement as the oldest of the group dug with all his might. They took turns shoveling and tossing the dirt away, and slowly the hole grew deeper. I walked out to get the baby for naptime, and the children excitedly showed me their hole. My oldest was up to his waist in the muddy gap.
“Great hole!” I commented. “When you reach the center of the earth, make sure you tell me so I can toss a rope down to you so you can climb back up.”
“I don’t know how to climb a rope!” one of the boys said.
“Just tie it around your waist and walk up the side of the hole. You can get out that way.” A big grin spread across his face as he turned back to watching his brother dig farther into the ground. Their lively voices were full of eagerness of finding great treasures inside the earth. With each brightly colored stone that was pulled out, their anticipation grew. Any blisters that formed on their hands were ignored. It was pure, childish delight. The entire afternoon was spent in this manner, with high hopes of finding rubies, dinosaur bones, and diamonds once they reached the center. Needless to say, they did not reach the center that day, and are still working on getting the hole deeper. They did have to eat supper on the back deck that night, and afterward, Daddy hosed them down with cold water before letting them anywhere near the inside of the house. Tired and sore from their hard work, they quickly fell asleep that night. It had been a good day.
Every child needs to be allowed to dig for the center of the earth. Their dreams of finding rubies and diamonds are what make children so innocent and intriguing. To the observer, the smiles on their faces are priceless and worth far more than any gems they might discover. Yes, childhood innocence is the real treasure worth finding and keeping.