Adulting: the act of putting on a shoe that looks good but doesn’t quite fit you right. This shoe gives you blisters and pinches your toes and makes it hard to run and climb trees and do everything the kid in you craves to do.
I think I could be a decent adult if I tried but lately, all I’ve wanted to be is a kid. Everyday, the world sharpens it claws and the death toll rises. Good and bad wear the same mask and murder, the unthinkable act of murder, becomes a commonplace practice driven by fear, revenge, religion, etc.
When you’re a kid, you live in a state of what would be described in adulthood as ignorance. But when you’re a kid, it’s not ignorance. It’s burrowing in the pockets of good before you trip over the stitches of bad. When your young and stumbling around in jelly shoes, you can’t comprehend a place where terrible people have a smattering of good in them and good people have a pinch of terrible in them. You can’t imagine a place governed by something other than the sun and animal-shaped clouds and everything that is good.
Monday through Thursday, I reacquaint myself with that world while I work as a paraprofessional at a summer program designed for preschool kids with special needs. We spend the first two hours playing with playdough and blocks and a very tattered looking potato head. Some of the playdough almost always gets eaten and the occasional block is thrown in an act of defiance but childhood revolution rarely survives the time-out corner. Most problems are solved by hugs, apologies, and incentives.
The biggest incentive of them all is recess which is my favorite and most exhausting part of the day. During recess, I’m usually chased around the mulchy playground by a pair of giggle-bots who insist I’m a bad guy that needs to be put into jail. When they catch me, which happens quickly because my adulting shoes are always failing me, they lead me to jail ( a glorious spot in the shade) and give me a stern talking to. They usually say something like “stop being bad (insert giggle)” and then let me go. I wish the relationship between a criminal and a cop could be as simple and good-hearted as this one.
Sometimes I think the world would be a slightly better place if we all acted like children. Strange thing to say, I know- it’s possible I’m just a hippie dippy weirdo who’s spent too much time in the sandbox but I have to wonder what kind of things we could do if we still wore jelly shoes and spent some time behind the lens of a kaleidoscope. Kids think beyond blisters. They hold their faces to the sun until their rosy cheeks are crimson. Their currency is smiles and hugs and cheez-its. They are bright, supremely good beings who mend what is broken without realizing it.
So why is it when some kids finally put on their adulting shoes, the kid in them gets lost forever? Maybe it’s because adulting shoes cause you a lot of pain sometimes and that pain isn’t always the repairable kind. When you all of a sudden start living among scary people and scary ideas and scary self-reflections, fear can become the new incentive-an incentive to hate, an incentive to hurt and kill. Fear drives the kid away.
But even when my adulting shoes blister, pinch, and jab, my pain and fear is quelled, at least temporarily, by a good game of tag with some twinkled-eyed, sandbox starlets. These chatty, bouncy products of playground politics with ignitions jump-started by imagination are my bright, kaleidoscopic spots in a world draining of color.
The kid in me may get lost sometimes but the kids surrounding me will always drag me back to reality. And the reality is the world may be a damaged good but as long as children keep acting like children, the world can be led out of jail by the small but powerful hand of a child.
Never Stop Acting Like a Child,
PS: Next to laughter, music is the best medicine so I’m giving you a musical prescription. Go and listen to Silver Moon by Roo Planes. It’s a beautiful song that reminds me of a childhood spent cloud-chasing and star-gazing.