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I’ve worn eyeglasses for a long time, and every few years my eyesight changes, and my ophthalmologist prescribes new lenses for me. My glasses help me see everything more clearly. My glasses improve my vision.
As adults, our view of the world differs from kids’ view of the world. When we walk by a construction site, we might see: building skeleton, piles of boards and concrete, loose nails, holes in the ground, RISK, DANGER, HARD HATS!! POTENTIAL LAWSUIT!!! (ok, maybe that last one was just me, the recovering attorney).
When kids see the same construction site, they see: adventure, mountain climbing, spy hideouts, swords, staffs and wands, excitement.
This makes me crazy as a mom because I end up saying “Don’t!” and “Be careful!” and “Stay away!” or “You getchyer butt over here and don’t you dare wander!” I say this because I’m a wise and experienced mom who knows better than my kids what dangers lurk behind every rusty nail, ragged hole in the ground and suspicious looking construction worker.
And what does all this warning do for my kids? It builds character makes them cautious – which makes my job easier – in the short term (there’s that fear-based decision making again). It makes them think twice about taking risk – or even makes them avoid risk at all.
Slowly, I’m creating glasses for my kids that help them see all the dangers of the world.
I’m not doing them as much good as I’d like to think.
What if we turned the tables? Instead of giving our kids our glasses and letting them see the risks and dangers of the world, what if we borrowed their glasses? How would that change the choices we make? How would that change the way we live our lives?
Can we recover that new world sense that children have? Is it possible to see everything as an exciting possibility, as pure potential?
I think it is.
Here are some ways to reclaim our childhood glasses:
- Go back to school. I’ve had friends who told me they would never go back to school. Why not??? One of the great benefits of being an adult who’s going to school is that you can take any class you want. Don’t take classes that you feel you should take. Don’t take classes that will advance your career! Don’t take classes that your friends are taking. Take classes in fun subjects you’ve always been fascinated by. Maybe it’s belly dancing or painting. Maybe it’s ancient religions or storytelling. If you look around, you can find classes offered by local museums, community colleges, universities, local counties, or even your friends and neighbors. There are free courses on the internet for just about everything. Learn a language, learn to cook, throw some pots. To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, school is fun, and fun is good.
- Join a club. One of the disappointments of leaving school is the feeling that you can’t play organized sports or do goofy tournaments and such. Think again! Adult leagues for football and softball and soccer and dodgeball are sprouting up everywhere. Just ask around, do some research, and you’ll find that running club, card club, or chess club that you thought you left behind. If you can’t find one, make your own! Advertise on craigslist or in the local paper and form your garage band or organize your ski group. Joining a club enables you to take up activities you loved (or think you might grow to love) and connects you with like minded play dates.
- Go left brain. Nothing like left brain activities to bring back that childlike excitement. Paint, draw, take pictures, make a mess. Scrapbook, glue, make a diorama. Just for fun, join a choir, learn to play an instrument, join a band. Write bad haiku (or good haiku). Think of some naughty limericks. Potty humor is ok if it makes you laugh out loud. You’re not trying to make Great Art, you’re trying to rediscover your joy!
- Read kids books. This is one of my guilty pleasures. There are so many ‘should reads’ sitting by my bedside table, those books that will enlarge my brain, help me to succeed and make a million bucks, discuss Important Stuff, and I really should read them. But there’s nothing like reading classic kids books to make me happy and remind me of that carefree time. Recommended: The Hobbit, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, anything by Roald Dahl, The Jungle Book, The Graveyard Book, The Wizard of Oz and all its progeny, Harry Potter series, and so many more.
- Do something unexpected. Surprise the people who think they know you, do something out of character or completely different. (Can you surprise yourself?) Dance in your skivvies, ala Tom Cruise in Risky Business. Go bungee jumping or skydiving. If you’re a tough guy, take a ballet class or learn to knit. If you’re a refined lady, go to a professional wrestling match or a monster truck ralley. If you’re a coffee fanatic, order the hot chocolate with whipped cream. Get sprinkles on your ice cream cone. Order the Happy Meal. Eat some Cracker Jack. Choose the Frosted Flakes over the all-bran cereal.
- Take a kid on a date. Watch kids’ movies – with the same eyes – and excitement and fascination – as your date. Get into feeding the animals at the zoo. Go-karts!
Now here’s a secret: Even though everything I’ve recommended sounds like playing hooky, it’s actually important work. This is the wisdom that kids know and that we adults forget. When we allow ourselves to jump into life with joy and excitement, when we allow ourselves to have fun, that passion carries over to other aspects of our lives. Fun = energy. So steal your kids’ glasses. Go have some fun.