There’s nothing quite like being a kid. The newness of everything. The excitement. The pure joy.
When you’re a kid, there are no responsibilities. No “to-do” lists. No feelings of guilt for not getting things done or being less than productive. As a child you are free to spend all of your time exploring your passions. You do everything for the pure love of it — and it’s glorious.
As we grow and become adults, this changes. We have to take on responsibilities appropriate to our age and stage in life, and this is good and right; but I don’t think it means that we have to entirely lose the wonder of being a child.
A few weeks ago my parents invited me, my husband and our son to an event at their country club. Bouncy houses were set up on the lawn. Buckets and shovels filled the sand traps of the golf course. An ice cream truck was parked outside, serving soft-serve cones and ice cream bars. Balloon artists were twisting balloons into the shapes of aliens with astronaut helmets and silly-looking hats that mad you two feet taller. It was a child’s paradise.
My son, Rafael, climbed into one of the bouncy houses set aside for the youngest kids. At 17 months old, I never would have thought him big enough to play in a bouncy house. He’s my first child so maybe I’m a bit over-protective! But grandpa had let him in and after sitting and watching the other kids the first time around, he was more than ready to jump the second time around. The woman manning the bouncy house door told me that it was okay if I went inside with him. But after watching him crawl in fearlessly, it was obvious he didn’t need me.
Shucks, I thought. I really wanted to get in too! But as a grown adult I had no excuse to go on my own. In fact, I needed my son to need me in order for it to be socially acceptable for me to get into the bouncy house. Am I the only one — or are are some of you reading this secretly wishing that you could jump in too?
Thankfully (for me!) when it came to the bouncy slide, Rafael could not go alone. He needed me to help him climb to the top. He needed to sit on my lap to have the confidence to go down. And he definitely needed me to shout “WHEEEEEE!!!” at the top of my lungs as we flew down. We went not once, but multiple times. I noticed that I was the only adult going down, but that didn’t stop me!
I think that’s one of the things that I love most about being a mom — the way it allows me to set aside my “too grown-up, too-old-for-this, too refined, too-big” feelings and just embrace the world of play.
Maybe you can’t climb into every bouncy house you see, but I hope that every day you can find little ways to connect to your childlike self. What activities and experiences do that for you? Is there anything you loved as a child but feel like you’re “too big” for now? Maybe your in lies in grabbing your child or grandchild by the hand and jumping in. I’ll see you there!