The Joy of Children

Mama, it’s raining!

One unmanageably hot day in Greece where the temperatures were around the 40 Celsius mark and the humidity almost 100% everything was sticky including my cousin and I. We sprawled on two small sofas trying not to have any part of our skin touch any other part because that would cause the condition of insta-sweat. If you’ve been anywhere tropical you have also experienced insta-sweat. And, you can confirm it’s a little gross.

The atmosphere could only hold that much moisture for so long.  The sky began dropping rain like little wet bullets. We could hear it hitting the terrazzo balcony. And then we heard my cousin’s three year old daughter. Her little fat bare feet slapping on the hallway floor and she ran to us.  Pluts, pluts, pluts, pluts.  She burst into the room.  Her tiny body shooting excitement like fireworks at us. “Mama! It’s raining!!” We, adults, barely moaned a small and unfortunate “yeah, raining…we know…”. No enthusiasm from us at all.  We didn’t even feign a drip of interest in her passionate three year old weather report. She took off down the hall again, as excited as she walked in leaving these two lazy adults alone in our lameness.  It only took three seconds and I started laughing. The vast difference in our response made me laugh. Here was this little kid with the thrill of a lifetime, just so excited about rain and then there was us, two grown women who could care less if a Biblical flood was starting.

What vastly different reactions to the same thing!

Expression

I had the good fortune of attending one of the most casual Q and A’s after a dance performance by La La La Human Steps called Exaucé/Salt choreographed by Edouard Lock in 1999. Mr. Lock sat in a chair and we all just stood around with our drinks asking him questions. Cool! The one thing that left a lasting impression for me was his answer about one particular dance piece in which there were dancers juxtaposed with two screens. One screen had a video of an expressive baby and the other with a relatively expressionless prostitute. As he spoke he said “the less experience we have the more expression we have. A child is full of expression but little experience. Once we grow and see more of the world and have more experience we tend to have less expression.”

I don’t like this idea but I see the truth in it. I see it at school where young adults are so hesitant to be super excited, so cautious of a wrong answer, so busy thinking about potential criticism. I get it—sort of. At this point teens are looking for acceptance from their border tribe (their peers). But this comes with a cost.

The vibe in a kindergarten class room is very different than that of a grade eleven class. When I play creative games with kids I see that young students do not hesitate with their answers. I ask “you walk through the park and you find (fill in the blank)—” Arms shoot in the air. An elephant! A blue giraffe! My cousin Frankie eating ice cream!! I ask the same question to teenagers and they are hesitant to share their answers. I feel like maybe they are afraid of giving the wrong answer. But, there is no wrong answer to creativity.

This carries into adult life, doesn’t it? Yeah. I’m asking you. Are you as joyous as you can be? Do you get excited about things that happen in life—big or small? Do you have answers in your head that are fun? Can you design moments in your imagination that are amusing?

I’m curious about joy.

I’m curious about what makes people happy. I’m curious about why at some points in my life I was so deep in despair and other times I walk around full, carefree and overflowing with happiness. I wonder about how framing our experience changes how we could potentially look at life and all the tiny details and moments of our experience.

Bro, swipe to the right!

Wouldn’t it be awesome if life were like a Tinder app. You have your moment/experience. It’s yucky you swipe the moment to the left—never seeing or feeling it again and if it’s awesome you swipe your moment to the right, stacking up all the good times.  Wait a minute! It is like life!  We should NOT hang on to things that make us sad and miserable. We should let those things go!

However, maybe those difficulties are also the things that remind us of what is actually wonderful.

Children come with this innate ability to be super excited about everything. EVERYTHING. And, I love that. The world needs more reactive joy. We need to give ourselves permission to really enjoy everything without hesitation.

**photo credit goes to Trish Beck

One thought on “The Joy of Children

Add yours

  1. I love this piece Angie. It is so much how I view life too. People forget to be free! not just physically but mentally too! live in the moment, create in the moment, laugh in the moment! It is FUN!

    Liked by 1 person

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