Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Returning to Childhood

    When I worked as a college counselor in a high school, I used to host something called the "Stressed-Out Senior Lunch."  Just before final exams and right after most college applications had been filed, seniors signed up for a lunch of good old-fashioned comfort food that featured macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders, green beans, big fluffy homemade rolls, and peach cobbler (catered, of course)!  Before the big day arrived I also made a trip to the dollar store and purchased a stockload of coloring books, crayons, markers, stickers of every sort, modeling clay, Play Doh in assorted colors and a couple of those things you press the Play Doh through to make interesting shapes. After a leisurely lunch, I turned the students loose with these toys. It was a delight to watch these sometimes too-cool seventeen and eighteen-year-olds tentatively making their way back to the forgotten pursuits of childhood. It was not long before boys and girls alike were animatedly discussing the finer points of Care Bears, Scooby-Doo, Matchbox Cars, The Little Mermaid, and Star Wars, to name a few. 
scooby-doo  They were allowed to decorate themselves with stickers to their hearts' content and take their colored pictures or clay creations home with them. Not one was shy about it. Each student also left the lunch with a package of bubbles with strict instructions that they were not to be opened in the school building. I knew I had stumbled onto something when the juniors began asking me when it was going to be their turn, and I received emails from a couple of mothers asking why I had given out bubbles at school and what exactly had happened that day.
 When I am playing with Little One, I find myself thinking about those teenagers. When she and I are coloring side by side and I am watching her find the wonder in learning to trace her hand, I cannot help but think about what we leave behind in our rush to adulthood. All too soon we forget the mystery and the beauty of the simple things: like blowing dandelion seeds, making clover necklaces, or constructing little forts out of sticks and stones.
     That's one of the things I like best about grandmotherhood: the excuse to play. So Little One and Little Two and I spend lots of time on the floor. Yesterday I was alternately a monkey, a bear, and an elephant. I'm not quite agile enough to be the frog that Little One requested, but we are working on that. We also played Hide-n-Seek, created some beautiful masterpieces, and read lots of books. I did not think once about the dishwasher to be loaded or the laundry to be folded or the errands I needed to run. I went back to that little girl happy place. I forgot all the cares of the world and the vain things that charm me most. 
 More and more I am understanding why it is that the Lord says, "Except as ye become as little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." Children get it. They intuitively understand the joy of discovery, and the gift of believing. Life is still magical to them and full of wonderful mystery. We are the ones who need to make a u-turn away from our jaded and tired views of life and learn again to appreciate the simpler, finer things. It will bring much needed rest to our souls and comfort to our weary hearts.

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