Do you remember that time in your life when everything had a sense of newness to it, and the world was a place to wonder about and explore? There are only a few, brief years in childhood when kids are old enough to create their own fun and young enough to let themselves do it, without fear of judgment.
Physical play, imaginative play, creative play…there were so many different ways of having fun as a kid, most of them quite simple.
Kids are definitely more easily amused than grown-ups. Not everything that was fun as a kid offers the same enjoyment now. I loved to play dolls when I was little, but playing them now with my daughter is honestly like pulling teeth (awful to admit, I know, but I’d rather do anything, including reading the same book out loud 20 times in a row, than play dolls). Not everything we did as children would be comfortable or healthy for us to do now, even if we gave ourselves permission to do it. There are always things, though, that call to us from childhood, things that remind us of that short and magical time before adolescence when having fun was what it was all about.
Reliving Your Past
What did you love as a kid? Is there a favorite movie you haven’t watched in years, or a comic you read over and over? Revisit them. They may bring back a laugh (wow, I thought this was good?) or a wave of nostalgia, or they may bring a level of simple, unadulterated happiness you haven’t experienced in a long time.
I think we all have those strange food combinations we loved as kids but grew a little embarrassed about as we got older… mine was warm peanut butter and butter sandwiches (I know, it’s weird). I used to remember those strange sandwiches and shake my head, until my first child was born.
My husband and I stayed with my parents for the first two weeks after our daughter arrived, while we found our own footing as parents, and every morning for fourteen days my mom would bring me a mug of hot, milky tea and a slice of toasted bread spread with first butter and then peanut butter. She would take the baby while I ate and let me collapse for an hour of much needed sleep before waking me and heading off to work.
The sleep was wonderful, of course, but the familiar food from my childhood brought a level of comfort I didn’t realize I needed, and drew a connection of care and security between my mom, my childhood and my new baby. Remembering the good things like this from our past can be so gratifying, a reminder of the child within all of us who still embraces and enjoys things wholeheartedly.
Being a kid was not always easy – the scary and unknown often seemed scarier and more confusing than when we encounter the same as adults. The good things, though, stood out in the same way. Laughs were bigger, happiness more infectious, play more spontaneous and alive.
We may not be able to recreate that entirely (I think I have a good imagination, but I don’t think I’ll ever climb into a box again and actually convince myself I’m driving a car) but we can incorporate some of the “childish” things we put away as we grew older back into our lives, things that didn’t necessarily have to be put aside.
You might get a lot of looks putting on a fire hat and making siren sounds, but visiting a fire house with kids or even talking to firefighters about the ins and outs of their engines can bring back the excitement and joy of an old dream.
You might not break out a tutu and make your family watch you perform scenes from The Nutcracker, but you could certainly turn up some favorite songs and dance by yourself for the sheer pleasure of it.
Find some books you loved as a child, and read them to the kids in your life. Read them to yourself. Let yourself eat a bowl of pickles and ketchup (or whatever your strange snack used to be) and see if your taste buds still enjoy it. Do a cartwheel. Shoot some hoops. Don’t worry about what you look like doing it – your six year old self probably wouldn’t have. Let yourself enjoy it just because. Because it’s fun.Because it makes you happy.And no matter how silly, pointless or childish something seems, when it creates joy, it’s a good thing indeed.