I can’t adult today.
After dragging myself kicking and screaming to another meeting I had every intention (and legitimate reason) to skip, I really needed a recharge. A day of housecleaning, grading papers, and lesson planning was not going to do the job. As such, I took the opposite perspective and spent my entire day – sun up to sleep time – with my children.
We played my son’s favorite “5 little monkeys jumping on the bed.” (It is played just as the song suggests, where we jump, “fall” off the bed, and then repeat until no monkeys remain.) Even my one-year old squealed with delight and joined us in jumping and falling off the bed. (Side note: the bed is on the floor – no bed frame , simply a box spring and mattress). We played a similar game on a bench where my son fell off the back onto the cushions to the “Humpty Dumpty” song. We watched Disney Junior. And, of course, we started a 100-piece puzzle abandoned within 15 minutes, argued about the fact that the word “a” is pronounced “ay” and not “aa-ehh” (like in cat, bat, ask), and laughed hysterically as we hit each other with a large bouncing ball at which point even daddy joined the festivities.
Playing with children brings to mind specific things that we tend to forget as adults.
1. Life is simple. We make it complicated. Happiness comes in simple things. For my son, it’s puzzles, and play, and peanut butter and jelly. We would love to believe that as adults life is SO different. Time has taught us that nothing in life is simple, and we believed the tomfoolery. Actually, the kids are on to something. Conversations with good friends, time laughing with loved ones, and delicious food – these are the things that life is made of. Sound familiar?
2. Life is only boring by choice. As soon as one game ended, it flowed seamlessly into another. No time was lost being bored with nothing to do – not a single, spare moment to stop, breathe, or regroup.
I think of how critical we are of one another as adults. We accuse the people we see “living exciting lives” of faking perfection – perfect parents, perfect marriages, perfect careers, perfect vacations.
Let’s pretend we are correct. Those smiling couples are on the verge on breakup. Those vacations were actually chaotic from start to finish; the meal she posted was the only one she ever cooked; he only snapped the gym photo to show how much more fit he is than everyone else; that Pinterest project was the only one she ever successfully completed and now sits on a shelf unused. OR perhaps, just perhaps, these people for a split second in time were living…really living their lives. Regardless of the before and after, in that instant, they took a kid’s perspective and decided life was no longer boring so much so that they needed to capture what was happening so they could remember the moment forever.
3. Just dance. A few weeks ago, we were rushing to get my son to the restroom, and a song blasted over the loudspeaker. My 1-year old immediately stopped her trek and began to dance in the middle of the track. Hundreds of teenagers, parents, and other homecoming gatherers watched. No one alongside her; clapping and smiling and twirling; immersed in the music… I have yet to meet a child who hates to dance or even appears the slightest bit embarrassed when dancing in a public place. You see, knowing that you “have no rhythm” or that you “are embarrassing yourself” is an adult characteristic, learned somewhere within the growing up process. If I could more often take away some nugget of wisdom from the baby, I may find that she is onto something. I get so busy focusing on whatever task is pressing at the moment that I forget to stop and hear the music, see the beauty that surrounds me, feel the rhythm of my own heartbeat. I get so consumed in what has to be done that life gets lost in details of little value. I forget to dance, to embrace life at face value and cherish every minute because I only have one shot to get it right.
“I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance….I hope you dance.”
~ Lee Ann Womack
I can’t adult today – the favorite catch phrase of a friend I hold near and dear. I have the luxury of living a life where “adulting” is highly overrated – at work, at home, and even on weekends. Yes, I must take care of my responsibilites as a mom, wife, teacher, and friend. But, I must also, whenever I can, take on a childlike persona and find the joy in ordinary things so that I can live life extraordinarily.
I am also open to suggestions about how to keep from being weighed down from the hustle and bustle of life. Leave me a word or two!