The incident dates back to couple of years, when a lady in our family made an observation about my then 4-year-old son. The lady remarked that ‘he’ is not innocent like her son. I guess like any normal parent, I did not like the comment, who would say such a thing about a 4-year-old child? The uneasiness on my part stemmed from the notion of innocence being a likable virtue in humans, even more so in kids. I have thought about it many a times since that day and observed my son more carefully on this subject. I think I agree with the lady’s observation of my son. He is not innocent. It does not mean he is not childish, but he is not a innocent child per se.
I began looking up what are the antonyms for innocent, to my surprise there is no clear antonym, instead there are what are called near antonyms. Some of them are ‘dishonest’, ‘artificial’, ‘devious’ etc, some others where ‘street smart’, ‘careful’, ‘mature’. Now just because I dont consider my son not innocent, does not mean he is any of the above antonyms of innocent. He is just not naive as many other kids.
As far as I can remember my childhood, I was never innocent, I always calculated what is beneficial to me, and in general considered good by whatever values I had at that age, and decided what I should do. I see the same qualities developing in my son for a while now, and I also see that he is sincere and smart. This is a combination which I believe has worked me throughout my childhood. Loss of innocence is termed like a bad thing, infact more than innocence being a virtue, lack of it is considered bigger a vice in the society. I do consider innocence a virtue, I guess, I do not subscribe to the notion that lack of it is a vice.
I like the innocence in my child’s laughter, I dont dread the lack of it in his smile. I like the innocence in my son’s attachment to his mother, I dont dread the lack of it in his interaction with the world.