When my oldest son was four, I asked him what he would like to be when he grew up. His ecstatic response, “A DINOSAUR!”
You can imagine my shock! I was at a complete loss for words. How do you respond when your child expresses out of all the professions in all the world, he chooses to pursue becoming a dinosaur?
What exactly am I supposed to say?
Today, of course, he has changed his tune. He instead would like to be a “soccer ball player.” We NEVER watch soccer in my house (hence the phrase “soccer ball player”). Again, I am at a complete loss. I mean, where is he finding these careers?
While soccer is at least is plausible, I still do not understand the mind of a toddler at work. So today I decided on item 4 of my non-negotiables – spend some time engrossed in the life of a toddler. One cannot truly measure the power of play.
I plan to block off a time of my day just for them – uninterrupted, unstifled, un-adulted. How great must life be when in your mind you can be a dinosaur? I will take it. I will take part in that world.
You see, we adults spend our time figuring out how much we can get done. We have bills. We have jobs. We have responsibilities. We remind our children to enjoy their youth while it lasts, but our children are our chance to relive our youth.
I will play games they made up or we made up accidentally. Currently, we play a game entitled, “Beat you later.” I have no idea where the phrase originated. I have no idea of the underlying meaning. In our world, the phrase is some version of tag mixed with racing. You can win by getting to the end first but somehow every round, someone is “it.”
We make the rules as we go. No rule is off limits. You can have three winners and no losers. One round we run outside to the car. The other round, we run up the stairs. Another, we run to the bed in the guest room. Sometimes, I am chasing one child. Sometimes, I am chasing the other, and yet all three run even when it is not their turn.
As adults, we need rules and guidelines. We need to know exactly what to expect. We will do nothing more than the minimum. As children, every round is maximal effort, maximal fun, maximal engagement. All games are a mix of some fun they have enjoyed before. No game is exactly the same as the last time we played.
As adults, we deal in harsh realities. As children, reality is completely optional.
I distinctly remember the look on my son’s face the first time he saw Mickey Mouse in a parade..
He had no idea Mickey Mouse was not real. To him, he captured a glance at his favorite television character in person.
So often as adults, we get lost in perfecting the ways we make our living instead of perfecting the way we use our living to make our life. We bring our work with us. We cannot take off to take care of home. We cannot afford to miss any days. We forgot how it feels to live in a world where anything can happen. We forgot how to play in a world where the only limitations stem from the end of our imagination. We forgot how to create an environment where we can do anything…where we can be anything.
Today, I will work backwards. I will stick to my guns. I will not bring my work home. As a matter of fact, I believe that I should take a little of my home to work. Perhaps, I can revisit the outer limits of my imagination. Perhaps, I can overcome some of the troubles that plague my educational environment by reintroducing the limitless options my learners believed as children. Perhaps, I can open my mind to the endless possibilities of a life where all things are possible, a life where impossible things are happening every day.
Sometimes, I want to live outside of the box. Sometimes, I want to live in a bubble. Sometimes, I want to live in universe where I can really be anything I want to be the way I have been told my entire life – the way I teach my children.
…Sometimes, I want to be a dinosaur.
I welcome anyone who would like to join me on my journey to opening our minds to endless possibilities. Any non-negotiables that any of you have, I welcome with open arms.
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See you tomorrow. Same time. Same place. Forever changing me. XOXO