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.

Why indeed.

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!

(photo courtesy of Dhammika Heenpella / Images of Sri Lanka)

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  1. Phil Steer says:

    Thank you for this. I agree completely when you say that “My Little Me and Big Me can coexist”. You might, perhaps, be interested in a book I have just had published – “As a Child: God’s Call to Littleness” – which is all about the need to be childlike. Please do take a look at the website for more details.

    • Beth says:

      I did just take a quick peek, Phil. You caught me with the cover photo . . . the beach is my most favorite place to be! Thank you for your thoughts and the best of luck with book sales!
      B Well.

  2. Hi Beth,

    I like the bubble blowing idea! That is a good alternative from counting to ten. It is hard to know where the little kid stops and the adult starts, but it is wonderful to reconnect with our inner child. Play is fun! Take care.

    • Beth says:

      Play is not only fun, it’s mandatory for me, Cathy! Who knows, I might revisit making mudpies next!

  3. Sober Living says:

    Nice informative blog, thanks for sharing.

  4. Kaylee says:

    Ha ha, the “red-ass” gave me a good chuckle…I love your friend’s attitude. Why not let our inner child come out more often? I’m so not ashamed to admit I still watch Disney movies.. But I’m sure there’s more the little girl in me wants to do. I just might pick up a coloring book on the way home. 🙂 Thanks for inspiring me to loosen up and enjoy the silly things!

    • Beth says:

      Kaylee, my friend Joe is a one-of-a-kind guy and has sure enjoyed being “famous.” More importantly, he reminds me every time I see him how playfulness is so good for the soul.

      Here’s to a magical Saturday!

  5. Galen Pearl says:

    I love watching my daughter with her baby son. She is so playful with him. I was not a playful mom. She laughs and gets silly with him. He thinks she is hilarious. I wish I had been more like her.

    • Beth says:

      Hi Galen! What is it they say about do-overs with grandchildren? How cool that you get to see with new eyes . . . AND . . . it’s never too late to be playful and silly in my book. My nieces have thought I’m uber-weird since they were really little and they’re in their mid-20s now!

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