As J.M. Barrie wrote in his book Peter Pan: all children, except one, grow up.
Everyone except Peter himself, who retains his childlike innocence and wonder. Lately, I’ve realized I need to reclaim some of that wonder.
Full disclosure: I don’t have children, so I’m not basing this on my personal experience with having little ones, but what I’ve observed watching kids as an impartial observer.
To be honest, I’m being a bit selfish here because this guide is more advice for myself, but I also hope that you find it to be of benefit as well, dear readers. It is more permission for my staid self to open up, to be less afraid, less by the book, less “what will they think?! ” To be less…”adult,” and embrace my inner child who is probably deep inside somewhere throwing a tantrum and stomping her little feet, frustrated by the fact that she is never able to let loose.
This is a reminder, to myself and whoever else might need to hear this, that there’s more to life than death and taxes, and the 24/7 rat race. There is more than “adulting.”
The number one thing you need to know to be like Peter Pan and not grow up (into a stuffy, boring adult, that I’m sure none of us want to be), is: Don’t be afraid (note: self-consciousness falls under the fear category). Don’t be afraid to be silly, to just let yourself go! (Hey, are you listening here? The little girl inside is whispering to me right now.)
So, what can we do to not be afraid? Well, take a moment to think about what a little kid (maybe your kid) does when they’re just having fun. When they are just emanating pure joy. Don’t worry about what others will think if they see you. Don’t worry about being judged. Most likely they’ll see you doing these things as they stand in their spotless suits and delicate dresses, and they’ll probably wish they could do those things too.
Do something that is fun just for the sake of it being fun. Not just fun for kids, but also something that grown-up you would also enjoy, such as:
1. Blow some bubbles! Unless you have kids, you probably haven’t blown bubbles for a while (or if you have, good on you!). And who doesn’t like to blow bubbles? (Even me! My inner mini-me is probably happy to hear that).
2. Take a leap—literally! Maybe jump in that deep giant puddle or roll down that grassy hill and see how you feel. You might enjoy it a lot more than you think! (And try not to think of the mud or grass stains on your clothes, if you can help it. Kids don’t worry about that sort of thing, and really, why should you?)
3. Don’t just walk over that hopscotch chalked on the sidewalk…do it. Jump through the squares!
4. Get dirty! I’m not suggesting making mud pies here (though if you feel so inclined, who am I to say no?) but more things like finger painting. Getting really immersed in something, getting tactile with it.
5. Dance! Move your body, even if you feel a bit ridiculous. This is me saying this, and I am not a dance-loving person. I cannot just cut it up on the dance floor. Why? This probably harkens back to my reserved, shy, introvertedness. I can picture my inner child (and inner teen) standing at the sidelines of any sort of dance-related event. So the closest thing to dancing you’ll ever find me doing these days is the yoga pose kati chakrasana (Sanskrit for waist rotating pose) where you swing your arms like wet noodles as you twist side to side.
6. Ask Questions. What’s one thing that kids have in abundance (sometimes to our chagrin)? Curiosity. Look at things with a beginner’s mind. Ask questions instead of just accepting things at face value. You know the perennial question probably all kids ask at some point—Why is the sky blue? And as a parent (or another adult in the child’s life), you probably just shrug or concoct a fanciful story involving unicorns. Do your research.
7. Sing with abandon! Most of us probably sing along loudly to our favourite tunes on the radio when sealed safely in our cars and no one else can hear us. When I was younger, and not just as a kid but into my teens and maybe even later, I used to sing in the shower. I realized just recently that I haven’t sung in the shower for a long time. My inner choir girl has gone silent, and I need to rectify that. My mom always used to say she loved hearing me sing in the shower. I don’t think I sang actual songs, more like humming tunes; just noise spontaneously coming out. Emotions as sound.
What things do you do (or want to do) to wake up your inner child, and for a little while at least, become your own Peter Pan and not grow up?
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