B Here Like a Child
Do you remember the bubbles, kites and bicycles of your childhood?
Sticky bubble hands, cricks in your neck from watching your kite dip and dive and road rash from a turn taken too fast on the bike . . . those faded memories stir in me lately as I look hard for the little girl who still lives in my heart.
I haven’t knocked on her door and asked her to come out and play in a long, long time.
We Should Invite Our Kids–the Little Boy or Girl Inside Us–to Play.
Experts say that adults who acknowledge the needs of their inner kids–whether by addressing childhood fears or allowing pent-up creativity and playfulness to express–are more equipped to successfully deal with adult stressors. And who among us doesn’t want to better deal with stress?
Don’t worry, this is definitely not a post about getting in touch with your inner child.
I’ve been down that path and I’m not an enthusiastic fan–mostly because it’s hard, emotional and takes a ton of time and energy.
But I have been feeling way too adult lately with too much work and not enough intentional play time.
That feeling raises a Zen koan-like question: Where does the lingering child in me end and my adult self begin?
As adults, we often think we should repress our child-like qualities and “act our age.” But what age, exactly? My chronological age of 51 or the age of Little Beth who blew bubbles through a round hole at the end of a plastic stick?
Adults and Our Mini Selves
The answer to the zen riddle is there is no end or beginning. There is no clear delineation between you as a child and you as an adult because when you think you see the drawn line, it shifts.
We adults assign time periods to the continuum of life, beginning with the age of 13 when we’re supposed to enter a training ground of sorts for adulthood.
But in truth, we don’t ever have to separate from our childhood. My Little Me and Big Me can coexist, but only if I accept that there is no separation. I don’t have to act my age. So there!
My friend Joe knows how to acknowledge his inner little boy.
When I saw him the other day, he was standing outside the building where we were both attending a meeting. He reached into the front pocket of his bib overalls and pulled out a small clear tube containing a bluish color liquid.
I watched in amazement as he took the top off the tube, which–you guessed it, was a plastic stick with a tiny oval on the end–and began blowing bubbles. “Ah,” he said. “This is a good batch.”
I looked around to see if anyone was watching.
Joe was unfazed. “Haven’t you seen me with these? I carry a tube of homemade bubbles around with me most all the time.”
My question, of course, was “Why?” To which he answered, “It helps me when I get a case of red-ass.”
Now I looked around to see if anyone overheard.
“And what is red-ass?” Big Me questioned.
“Red-ass,” Joe said in a matter-of-fact tone, “is when I get so mad that my face turns red and I want to kick somebody’s ass. So I blow bubbles instead.”
What could I say, besides “oh.”
Joe is a great example of a person with a free-flowing relationship between his child-self and his adult-self.
Feeling Too Adult? Try the B Here Today Litmus Test
This test is simple but the answers are crucial. Ask yourself these three questions:
- Do you take yourself too seriously?
- Do people regularly say to you, “Geez, lighten up!”
- By the end of the work day, are your shoulders up around your ears, is your jaw locked and does your neck feel like a taut rope?
There are many days when I can answer in the affirmative to all of those questions. Maybe you can too.
I’ve been advised to open my heart and my arms to Little Beth. When I do, I can feel her giggle and wiggle with glee.
Little Beth craves attention through playfulness, silliness, delight and childlike wonder. “Why you gotta always be so serious and grown-up?” she asks.
Just for today, let’s all try to B Here Like a Child. I guarantee that letting just a bit of playfulness into your life will help ease any too-adult-itis you may be experiencing!
P.S. Don’t all kids LOVE birthday celebrations and presents? On April 1st, I announced a month-long birthday contest (that includes presents!) as a good excuse to celebrate my birthday all month long. We (Little Me and Big Me) are having so much fun that we’ve decided to extend it through May because Big Me celebrates another birthday of sorts on the 20th–21 years of sober living. Woo Hoo! For a refresher on contest rules, click here: http://bheretoday.com/2012/04/how-to-not-b-foolish-on-april-fools-day/
B Well & Child-Like!