The Child Inside Us
As a parent, you may worry whether your squirrelly, irresponsible child will become a successful adult one day. Can a child be successful as an adult if he never changes from a child into what society perceives as an adult?
I watched a movie a long time ago that touched on this very issue. It was called “Big” starring Tom Hanks as a 13-year old boy who made a wish to be grown up.
Well, he got part of his wish. His body aged into an adult’s body, but he was still a 13-year old boy, mentally.
When I was 13, I always thought about being an adult, but like Josh, Tom Hank’s character, I glamorized it. I wanted what would be added to my life as an adult, but I didn’t realize that climbing trees wouldn’t be part my life plan from then on. Or that walking around barefoot or locking myself in my bedroom would not be an option anymore.
Imagine being in a board meeting and suddenly standing up and announcing, “You cheat! I’m never playing with you again!” Adults have different ways of handling those who “cheat.” We’re much more subtle. Of course, if you were an adult who still had the faculties of a 13- year old, you could tolerate the highly annoying repetitious sounds kids make for absolutely no other reason other than to hear an adult scream.
We may never know how long the insanity would go on if there were not an adult present to stop them.
If I still had the faculties of a 13-year old, I could memorize a list of things and still remember them an hour later. I might have retained that spur-of-the-moment enthusiasm that my kids have. If I did, I wouldn’t have that deerin the-headlights look when one of them suggested, “Let’s make soap today, Mom!”
“You mean actually MAKE soap? Wouldn’t hopping into a bubble bath be more fun?”
I might be able to feel the same excitement my daughter feels when she says, “There are 60 kids in my theatre camp, Mom. Can we make cupcakes for everyone?
Instead, since I’m an adult, I think about all the pesky consequences the kids don’t bother with. Things like having to buy new measuring cups and a double boiler after the soap wax sticks to the sides. Things like how many hours it will take to bake 60 cupcakes with one cupcake pan. I think about the clean- up and delivery of 60 cupcakes.
Still, if it wasn’t for my kids and their nothing-is-impossible, throw- caution- to- the- wind innocence, life would be pretty boring.
As an adult, I probably wouldn’t climb a tree for the fun of it. However, if a kite, plastic rocket, badminton birdie, or kitten was up there, I would attempt to rescue it. I wouldn’t want to. I would throw things at it first, but if all else failed, I would climb and then I would be glad I did. There would be that sense of accomplishment I used to feel when I was a kid. I would think, “I haven’t done that in thirty years!”
If you asked a 13-year old to clean out the garage, he’d do it. He wouldn’t want to. He’d complain and whine at first, but if all else failed, he’d do it and then be glad he did. He’d feel that sense of accomplishment, too.
That 13-year old is still there inside all of us, it’s just that the activities that motivate us are a little different. It is unfortunate that, as adults, we know ahead of time the consequences for any sort of enthusiastic project. What we have forgotten, though, was that they are worth it.