Recently on a family trip my aunt and I sat together on a bench watching the family moving around, getting their coffees and pastries, enjoying the small pleasures of being on summer vacation. Suddenly our attention was diverted to a rambunctious, energetic, rather loud three and a half year old not far from us. He belongs to me. I couldn’t help the smile that spread across my face watching his carefree play. My aunt and I sat there for a few beats just watching him run, jump, climb, imagining he was his favorite superhero of the day, blurting out to no one in particular that he was in hot lava and needed to be rescued. My husband was right there to help him out of his precarious situation and for a while played along with his antics. My aunt lets out a laugh as she turns to me and says “wouldn’t it be funny if we never grew out of that stage? What if we were all just running around everywhere, clinging to others legs yelling ‘now walk!’ jumping, and climbing on everything?” I didn’t dare answer the question as the laughter that followed was unstoppable. Imagining my family members running, jumping off the furniture and hanging upside down from the couch without a care in the world was followed by even more laughter, the kind that brings tears down your face.
In that moment I was grateful for a few things. First that my son was having such a joyous time, living in the now, having not a care in the world. Second, that I witness these moments daily and is the joy of parenting. Third, that as adults we do generally grow out of this stage. Lastly, that although my carefree days of being a three and a half year old are long gone I still get to witness these moments, engage in his play, and enjoy them through the eyes of my sons eyes.
Watching this imaginative play before me the laughter continued but also with increased thoughtfulness about incorporating some of that energy and joy into my life daily as well. I can remember feeling that way when I was younger. Where did those qualities go? Where did that person go? No where I thought. Everything is still there, a part of me. It is simply up to me to let those qualities shine every now and again as they are important qualities to possess. I invite each of you to remember that person in you too. We have all been there at some point in our lives. Remember how far you have come from those days. With some mistakes and regrets sure, but with plenty of successes too. We couldn’t have got to where we are today without the help of our younger selves.
Thanks to my aunt for sharing your insights and thoughts while watching your great nephew play. And thanks to my son for being so full of life, imagination, energy, and simply doing what you are feeling. Lets all remember that. That in the scheme of things, not that long ago we were once there too. Invite them to out to play once in a while.