I recently spent time with our friend’s little kids and had the greatest time. My husband even more so, getting on the ground and mixing it up. What happens when you hang with little ones? I find it’s an opportunity to check in with your own inner-child and remember, not so long ago you looked at life through those eyes, just barely clearing the back of a sofa.
Here’s my take away: children can have fun with anything. This thankfully hasn’t changed, despite all the technology, if there is none around to be had; a box, some Tupperware, old board games will do. They make you laugh and quickly whisk you off into their silly world, where making sense, doesn’t make sense. All order is out the window, bring on the chaos of having fun.
It was easy to have fun, I knew they were here for a short period of time, so we took full advantage of our time together. As a parent this made me a bit sad because there are times I don’t think I enjoyed the day-to-day interactions, missing out on some of the fun, when I was raising kids. I was often stressed, balancing work, motherhood and keeping a house. In a blink, they were grown. This weekend, I gave that guilty thought the attention it deserved, a second or two and moved onto how my little house guests can inspire me to be more child-like where I am now in my life, and to reflect back to when I was their age.
I thought about what being child-like really was, and in doing so, I reminisced about the stuff I used to do. Here are some activities that symbolize being a kid to me. I am going to revisit some of these in the near future to check in with my former self and get in touch with the creative forces I once harbored.
- Swing on a swing.
- Throw rocks into the water and watch the ripples.
- Play a game of tag or hide and seek.
- Play checkers.
- Go sledding.
- Play in the waves.
- Walk through the woods while dragging a big stick.
- Lay on the grass and look up at the sky.
- Leave the house without a destination.
It’s good to reconnect with your former young self. As I write this all sorts of wonderful memories are playing on the film reel in my head: my pets, adventures with my easy-bake oven, walking to school with the neighborhood kids, my parent’s kitchen, running home from school to see my little sister for the first time, my brother riding his battery operated car down the stairs from the second floor and crashing it, Christmas mornings, piling into a refrigerator box and rolling down the hill with my siblings, car rides calling shotgun, listening to my mother sing to the radio, the way-back seat of the station wagon, going to the beach, getting a sunburn. The list goes on and on.
I find this exercise not only brought a smile to my face, it also helped me to make peace with the story I tell myself. As we age these memories fade, I tend to focus on the negative. There were a lot of good times, and tough times as well. According to a professor at Stanford University, while many people have a positive outlook, almost everyone remembers the negative events more strongly and in greater detail. Hmmm. I would have to agree with him. In the New York Times article where he was quoted, the professor concluded the reason this happens is that the brain handles positive and negative information in different hemispheres. What happens during the processing phase of our experiences? It takes more brain power, using greater energy, to process negative emotions. The good experiences, we don’t spend as much time thinking about, so we don’t remember them as well. Therefore, we tend to draw on the negative.
Watching these kids reminded me of those simpler times, minus some of the drama associated with growing up. I can think of the not-so-great-times at a later date, or not at all, for now I want to stick with the good stuff. I prefer to credit the positive things that shaped who I am, and I intend on remembering them.