Summer as child. The warm days stretched out before you like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. The world smelled like fresh-cut grass and the sun felt so good on your skin. You couldn’t wait to get out there and explore, creating your own kingdom where you were always the hero. Fantasy was a way of stretching your imagination and learning to problem solve. Daydreaming or playing pretend allows your mind to go outside the confines of an adult world and be innovative.
The world revolved around you as a child. We all remember those times we were immersed in a game of flashlight tag, or about to fight off pirates in our backyard fort only to be interrupted by an adult, who claimed to know what’s best, telling us we needed to come in and take a bath, or come home for dinner. We would put up a fight, always bargaining for 10 more minutes. ( I promise I will clean my whole room up tomorrow). There was no good reason, as far as we could tell, that we needed to end our fun. We didn’t understand “have tos” or anything that took us away from the here and now. Then suddenly we are the adults, running from one “have to” to another. Some of them are priorities, but some are not. In an adult mind, these “have tos” always come before the “want tos”. We allow them to steal out time and our joy, constantly putting off the fun for the responsibility. We say yes to things we don’t want to do because someone who claims to know what’s best has told us what the priorities are. I’m not suggesting we should all live in a selfish little bubble, doing good for others is a cornerstone to finding happiness. However if the PTA turns out to be nothing more than a gossips session of the mother elites, then is it really a good use of your time? Or would your child be better served by an after dinner bout of flashlight tag in the backyard? It’s OK to quit things that suck at our soul and say no to people who are toxic or negative. Your time is yours, start bargaining for more of it. Do something creative and silly and fun. Your little world is bigger now than it was during those long days of summer. It might include a spouse, some kids, maybe a pet or two (or five) but it’s still your world and you get decide what revolves around it.
Children don’t see differences, they see playmates. When small kids are gathering up a group for hide and seek they really don’t care what your parents do for a living or what color your skin is. (cooties might be a factor, but hey, you can’t play hide and seek by yourself so they even overlook that.) Kids barely care if the jeans they are wearing are clean let alone how much they cost. Intolerance and judging are taught by example and spread like a virus through schools by the bullies that declare those sneakers are soooooo last year. Sadly, this infection seems to be developing at an earlier and earlier age and there are generations that are being robbed of the freedom of experiencing diversity in playmates. They miss out on learning to play or work on a team where not everyone thinks the same way they do. When adults judge or hate or refuse to embrace diversity we rob ourselves of the same experience, and often of friendships that could be meaningful and help us to grow. It also continues the cycle of fear and intolerance by setting a bad example for the young minds in our midst.
As children we all thought we were the awesome sauce on this planet. At least until some meanie tells us that to be cool we have to wear pink on Wednesdays. When we learned something new like tying our shoes or throwing a fastball we assumed everyone in a 20 mile radius needed to see it. Somewhere along the line we have our world rocked by someone telling us our fastball is no big deal, and we feel deflated. Don’t let the meanies win! If you accomplish something, be proud. You don’t have to put on a tiara and walk around the office knighting people because you nailed that conference call… but celebrate yourself! Finally made a cake from scratch that didn’t fall apart? Go you! Remembered to floss everyday this week? Awesome! Took all winter at the gym but you can finally do 5 unassisted pull ups? I’m doing my happy dance for ya! ( These are 3 things I can’t manage to accomplish myself, so if you can do any of them I tip my proverbial hat to you.) It’s wonderful to have friends that will be just as excited about your small accomplishments as you are so you have someone to share them with. But if you’re hanging around relying on someone else to sing your praises all the time… well….. you’re an adult now …and it’s probably not going to happen a lot, so just do it yourself.
Children have no sense of fear or limitations. They will climb trees and jump from rope swings, but clowns can bring them to tears. Why? Clowns are people, and people can be scary, but climbing and jumping are based on our ability and as a kids your ability is infinite. Now before you tie on your living room curtains as a cape and jump off the shed roof I want to gently remind you that adults don’t heal as fast as kids. You no longer have to endanger your limbs to impress the new neighbors. Just bring back that “I can do that” feeling, no matter how big it is. Push your limits a little. The real world tends to sneak off with our courage and replace it with uncertainty. Fear of not getting the job, or the promotion or the date for Friday night. Take some risks, they are still exhilarating. And if you fail, try again, or find a new adventure. Figure out whats holding you back, then like a kid on rope swing, just let go.
– As a side note I think it’s perfectly acceptable to continue to be terrified of clowns.
photos by PEXELS
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