For the past 3 months, I’ve been working with kids. I cannot begin to express how much joy I’ve gotten from this, but I can say that it has made me wonder why I grew up so fast, why I didn’t enjoy my childhood as much as these kids appear to do.
On one of those days when I was having one of my ‘lost childhood’ pity parties, I had an epiphany (or maybe it was a stroke of insanity):
I wondered: ‘is it not possible to bring back those days, those feelings?’
I heard myself ask myself (yeah, I know); ‘how?’
‘Study these kids, act like them’ (voice 2) said.
‘You mean you want me to act like a child in my twenty-something-th year of existence on this earth? When my mates have entered their husbands houses started having children of their own?’
Voice 2 asked again: ‘Well, what do you have to lose?’
And finally I told myself: ‘okay, let’s give this a try’
Quick Fact about me: once I’ve made a decision, I stick to that decision with the tenacity of a militarized bulldog. So in the week that followed, I made up my mind to observe and study the kids who seemed to be that happiest of the lot, and I began to act like them (to a reasonable extent. I mean…I had no intention of being locked up in an institution for mental instability). I took this exercise very seriously, I even stocked up on biscuits and Capri Sonne to munch on and help get into character.
Luckily for me, they were on registration break, so I didn’t have to wear a uniform and follow them to school (Yes, I think I would have done it, I was quite desperate). Anyway, during this seemingly inane experiment with my inner child, I learnt quite a lot. More than I expected to.
The first major lesson I learned was they don’t let things bother them for long. In many instances, I watched Sa’id, one of my “observees”, fall down while trying to make his way from one point to another (usually on some absurd mission). As long as there were no adults to make a fuss about the fall, he would get up, dust himself off and keep moving. He didn’t stand there moaning and whining about falling or run around telling everyone how he fell, he just kept MOVING!
On several occasions, I have seen Sa’id and another one of my “observees”, Lizzy crying for various reasons. A lizard could have scared them, their older sibling hit them, or on one specific occasion, a car nearly hit Lizzy. In all these ‘scary’ experiences, one thing stood out to me: they immediately ran to locate their mums, dads or some older siblings and sometimes even Me :D. And immediately they reached the outstretched arms of whoever they were running to, the crying stopped. That was their system. Their support and anchor. We all need a support system. People who make your life better just by being in it. They plant smiles on your face constantly. Everything is better when you see them or talk to them. You need those people.
Several times, I have watched both of them filled with curiosity as they see or experience something new. An insect, an oddly shaped stone, a new toy, a new environment. I have watched their eyes light up in wonder and amazement as they reach out to the new thing and explore. This ‘exploring’ usually involves reaching out, rubbing their hands all over it, looking at it and in many instances …finally putting it in their mouths. That is, until an adult stops them.
Watching them, I ask myself ‘where has all that curiosity gone?’ A lot of us go about daily without noticing or observing the world, not engaging our senses. We use things and devices, the logic of which we barely have the faintest inkling. Worst of all we don’t even seem to WANT to know. When we finally summon the courage to explore, to ask, we let people discourage us.
‘What you are doing, they ask?’;
‘Why do you want to know’?
‘Just do what I told you’
‘Just follow the procedure’ …and immediately, just like that, we lose focus, interest, we stop trying to understand and just do.
I think the thing I observed that stuck out the most though was their capacity for unconditional love. These kids warmed up to me within minutes of setting eyes on me and I can boldly say that they love me, although I struggle to say the same about them. You see, somewhere along the long trek to adulthood, we have lost that welcoming ability, that willingness to let go and just be. Maybe it’s the result of accumulated negative experiences, excessive warnings from semi-paranoid but well-meaning parents and friends, stories we’ve been told or read about. But the hard truth is a lot of us are cold, plain cold to strangers. It’s almost inhuman.
During this observation/immersion experiment, there were experiences that were less than positive to me and if there was anything that really annoyed me about them, it would have to be the the never-ending barrage of questions about everything and anything. It tired me. But along the line, I realized that the reason this annoyed me was because I was impatient. I didn’t want to take time to answer their questions and maybe, just maybe, unwittingly, I had started the process of killing their childish curiosity. Stealing their childhood from them just as adults before me had stolen mine. So, I resolved within myself to answer every question to the best of my ability, annoying though they may be. I’m still watching them. I learn something new every day. It surprises me how much these kids have to teach us, and how easily we put them down; ignore them; brush them aside without a second thought.
I know, in many ways, we can’t afford to be as carefree as these children. Life is hard and cruel; people can be evil. I understand. I’m not completely naive. But there is still something to be said for retaining your childhood sensibilities. What would it profit a man to be successful and yet unhappy as many of us young adults seem to be?
We’ve let worry take over our lives so we sleep in comfortable houses with restless minds.
We’ve cut off/lost faith in our support systems and are scared to let other people in due to our own trust issues. We are slaves to our own fears.
We’ve lost the sense of wonder that draws us to discover, to smile, to immerse ourselves in the world. Instead, we chase money desperately, doing jobs and things that we have no interest in or find deplorable. The mind slowly rots away.
Worst of all, many of us don’t even know what love is anymore. We’ve let life steal that carefree acceptance that we had as children. It’s a pity.
No wonder when many of us look back, we remember our childhood fondly and wonder how life became this way. But the truth is: in many ways…we made it this way. As children, life was an open field, but we built the walls of this present prison ourselves. I’m not saying we should take all the walls down, they do protect us but I think the least we can do is put in a few windows…let some air in…learn a few things from the children.
(This post was written by @NerdyChique and edited by yours truly. You’ll be seeing quite a few posts from her on this blog for a while since I have exams and a trip to Thailand coming up over the next few weeks so yeah… I’m quite occupied. I will mostly serve as editor/publisher 😀 Have a great weekend y’all! and have a happy Easter. Rock your inner child!)