One feature of our very modern world is our inability to retain a hold on innocence for children. We are quickly losing the warmth and security of the childhood years, letting a tough, jaded, "cool" guy model run the show.

At the first of the century we read about boys who worked next to their fathers and girls who learned bread-baking, quilting and butter-making.These children worked long hours and lost play years helping the family survive, and we judge those years as an assault on the child.

Eventually, though, we also decided that the sanctity of the family was unnecessary and dispensable, that "doing your own thing" was more conducive to teaching children.

In the past 10 years, we have come full circle -- losing play years again because playing isn't "cool." Singing isn't "cool." Art isn't "cool." But blood and guts television shows are.

When part-time homes and part-time families make up the profile of a child's stability, the home no longer focuses on the child. He has become an afterthought, an every-other-weekend chore.

Keeping the ceiling on childhood is a battle for good parents, grandparents, day-care providers and teachers who want children to experience the byproduct of a post-industrial world: a place where children don't have to work, where there is time to explore.

Good parents and grandparents, providers and teachers shouldn't give in to a jaded, worldly, "cool" world view. The emphasis should be on healthy, normal, childhood games and activities.

Children who lose their innocence too fast are stymied into a growth freeze that forbids an open mind and an open heart.

Innocence rightfully belongs to our children. The love of play, the love of learning, the trust of loving adults should be the whole world for the children in our care.