laugh it off
stop worrying. no, seriously, stop it.

see the world through enchanted eyes

Yesterday was my goddaughter Claire's first birthday and I spent a good portion of the day celebrating with her outdoors at at picnic venue. It was a beautiful day -- sunny and nearly 80 degrees -- and it was so wonderful to just be outside, enjoying the weather. I don't get to spend as much time with her as I'd like to so it was great to spend a lot of the day with her. In general I don't spend a lot of time with children. They make me nervous. I don't know what to say to them or how to act around them. I'm never quite sure what's appropriate and what's not. When I tell people this, they often say, "Well, you were a kid once." Yes, yes I was. I was also once a fetus but I can't say that I can relate to them all that well either.

I used to default and say, "I don't like kids," but now I realize that it's not that I don't like them. It's that I don't get them. Even was I was a kid, I struggled to understand them. Play in the dirt? Nah, I think I'll just go up to my room and read. Run around outside? Sounds nice, but I have some color-coordinating of my files to get done (yes, I had files...what was in them, I'm not so sure). I didn't really fit in (but who does?) and I would have much rather sat quietly listening to the adults chit-chat at a party than run around outside with the wild (and dirty!) kids. So, I guess this whole "not getting kids" thing isn't all that new for me. The only thing is that now I don't have to interact with them so I can easily brush it off and say, "Oh, yeah, I'm not a big fan of kids." And since only one of my friends has a kid (and another on the way, crazy lady!), this isn't really a big problem for me. I can easily skip through my days kid-free and not have to think about it much.

Until yesterday. Yesterday was all about the kid-friendly environment and, shockingly, I probably spent the most time with little Claire (other than her parents, of course). It was interesting to see the world from her one-year-old perspective. It actually gave me a great opportunity to see things in a new, fresh light and I loved it. Everything -- and I mean, everything-- is interesting to her. She loved banging on the metal picnic benches. She loved touching (ever so gently!) the pink polish on my toes. She loved chasing, to the best of her wobbly-walking ability, the lone dog at the party. She loved digging in the cooler for large pieces of ice and sucking on them, smiling at me and saying, "Mmmm!" It was quite fascinating to me. I take all of these things for granted on a daily basis. Nothing (okay, very few things) are that interesting to me. Very few things make me break out in a oh-my-god-that's-awesome grin, the way Claire did when she unwrapped her birthday gifts or played peek-a-boo.

As I was driving away from the party, I thought about little Claire's excitement and asked myself, Did I ever feel that excited about anything? Was the world really once that new and interesting to me? Of course it was; it must have been. But, like most of us, I lost that feeling, that thrill of learning and touching and tasting and trying new things. I lost it, but I want it back. How fun would it be to walk around like a little kid, taking everything in as if seeing it for the first time? How would it feel to be that interested in the world? Though I know I can't completely recreate that feeling of new excitement, I really think being more mindful will help me to capture some of that great emotion I saw in Claire's face.

Another great thing about Claire (and kids in general)? They don't hide how they feel. They don't pretend. One of Claire's parents' friends was blowing up a balloon, pre-party, and, man, Claire did not like that. She heard the noise of air filling that rubber and she started wailing. As much as I was shocked and quickly asking, "What's wrong? What happened?", I loved it. I loved the honesty in that. Same thing happened when Claire was given her first piece of cake. As soon as the sugar touched her lips, she made the most disgusted face I'd ever seen. She clearly hated it. Can you imagine being able to be that completely honest? Though some of us are that way, a lot of people would politely take a few bites and then leave the rest, claiming to be "too full" or "watching those calories." It was so refreshing to see Claire's reaction. Though I don't want to openly express my emotions at all times, I do tend to be a little closed off and even, at times, deny myself my feelings. If I could be a little bit more like Claire, a tad more open to letting the world see what I'm feeling, I think I would be a lot better off.

I recently read a quote by Elizabeth Lawrence that says, "There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again." I think that's true. I think childhood is a place where everything -- things, places, people, emotions -- are so new that we can't help but experience them with a fierce intensity. Thinking about that makes me oddly jealous because I know I will never again (at least not in this lifetime) experience life exactly in that way (though I'm going to make more of an effort now to see the world through the eyes of a child). Thinking about it also makes me a little bit sad because children (myself included) don't realize how awesome it is. I guess they don't really have the ability to understand it at that age, but it's so amazing to be experiencing everything for the first time and it would be so, so cool if we could all capture that feeling and remember it as adults.

Since that's not possible, the best we can do is work on being more mindful of ourselves and the world around us. There is so much beauty, so many interesting things in the world, if only we take the time to think about the world not as an adult world, but as a child might -- as an enchanted place filled with wondrous and fascinating things and feelings. I don't know if we can ever get the true childhood experience back, but we can certainly try to see the world through more enchanted eyes.

Comments

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Great post and yay, the comment function is working for me! :) Back to today's post: I think the reason why kids are so happy and carefree is because they have not learned fear yet and they have not been made aware of the concept of limitations. I think once we are taught that the world is a scary place and that not everything we want will happen, the childlike innocence vanishes. Kind of sad. In reality, there are no limitations, just the ones we place on ourselves and that is why we as a society like heroes because they transcend limits! Anything in life is possible! :)

Being around children can help us adults to reconnect with our own inner child who is so full of awe, love and joy of living in the moment. Notice how open your heart feels next time you are around Claire or another child.

I can completely identify with your feelings here. I have always said it: babies and kids are THE most honest people in the world. How many times have you wanted to throw yourself on the floor and cry, or to jump up and down with glee? Small children who haven't yet been "tainted" by societal expectations are able to fully express their emotions, and while it would be difficult to manage at times in the adult world, the freedom of it is a beautiful thing. Great post. :)

Yayy, I am now following you on Twitter. I've had it for a while now, and don't remember the specifics of uploading my pic.

I'm glad you're discovering, or rediscovering, the joy of seeing the world through the eyes of a child. And yes, you can too still do all that stuff. I do routinely. Give it a shot. Bet you'll love it : ))

xoxo
Karen

Hi Positively Present .. I'm on Twitter .. but can't get it to connect with FB ... drives me nutty!! Still one day I'll get there!

Re kids - I too felt like you did .. no kids & never seem to have loads of friends with kids .. however my first godson was great - wehn I was in my 20s .. but I went off to South Africa & was away.

When I got back .. some English South Africans asked me to be godmother to their daughter - what a different kettle of fish. Having had 20 years of thinking I 'hated' kids .. suddenly .. this little thing became a pal & she is today .. going on 17 this year!

A new set of eyes was born .. difficult sometimes with the complete ignorance and rudeness of some .. my god daugher does not fit into that category at all - nor does her brother .. so I do try and look at life in a different way .. and appreciate all ages!

So glad you had a wonderful day with Claire .. and appreciated her .. enjoy the times ahead as godmother and friend ..

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Hilary - Thanks for sharing your comment. You've made me feel very happy and excited to be a godmother. I'm looking forward to the time ahead. :)

Karen - Yay! I'm glad you're following me on Twitter. I'm not sure if I quite understand the purpose of it, but it's interesting that's for sure. I got the picture to work - finally!

Angie - Thanks! You're completely right -- kids are tainted by the world yet. I wish I could be that innocent, but I guess I'll have to settle for working hard to be mindful in the life I have.

Patricia - You're completely right. Being around children can definitely open your heart as well as your eyes.

Nadia - I'm so glad you can comment now! I appreciate your insightful words and I completely agree with what you've said about fear. It's sad, but I think we can learn from our fear and recognize when it's necessary and when it's holding us back. It's just a matter of being aware of our instincts and emotions.

Now that I'm here, I can understand your title "see the world through enchanted eyes." I loved this post and it is so true about children! My girls are all GROWN-UP now, but I do remember their early days of wondrous discoveries. I love the way you write and have added you to my Google reader:~)

Regarding Twitter, I can't remember what I did, but just tweet this as a question and ask people to get back to you via direct reply, which is kind like Twitter email. Someone will help!

Also, check the size of your picture. For example, mine is 73 by 73 pixels and is a jpeg. Lot of times if a picture is too big or in the wrong format, it will not show up. Good luck and I have to follow you!

Sara - Thank you for stopping by Positively Present! I'm so glad you enjoy the site. I finally figured out the Twitter picture situation somehow so that's good. I look forward to reading more on your site, which I think is great!

Music and dancing can bring me to that place of pure excitement. Maybe you skipped something that's so obvious you missed it?

P.S. Welcome to Twitter!

Hello! Just stumbled in and loved your post. I am the same way with children...I just don't get them. To each his own, I just hate having to think up polite excuses on why I don't have any of my own.
Thinking back, I find it is hard to remember the excitement I felt as a kid, but I do remember things being so much more FUN.
Great post, I enjoyed it. :)

Thanks for this story. I particularly liked the idea that we can reclaim some of the freshness of our childhood experience by being more honest. Doing that also seems like it's helpful for keeping our attention in the now, since we don't have to use all this mental energy coming up with stories about how we supposedly feel and can just say how we do feel instead.

Hi! Yup, hard to understand kids sometimes, but they do give us certain gifts even without knowing it. Just a laugh, an innocent look in their eyes, or a small gift from them can really make our day :-)

Hayden - Music and dancing are great! Good point. I love both and they definitely bring out something different in me than other aspects of my life. PS - Thanks! :)

Shannanigans - Thanks! :) I don't think I'll ever have kids of my own, but I appreciate what they can teach me about the world. After reading another blog on a similar topic, I realized that dogs can have a similar affect. They are so curious and excited about the world. I have a dog and it's a lot easier than a kid so I think I'll stick to that.

Chris - Honesty is definitely a great way to reclaim our childhood. Sadly, it's not always acceptable in adult society. I wonder what it would be like if it were...

I TAKE OFF THE MASK - I agree. They are hard to relate to (at least, for me), but there is something about them that it is really awesome (especially when you can just hand them over to their parents when their awesomeness turns into hysterical wailing, haha).

positively present, everything about life in the physical plane can seem enchanting or feel enchanting. Depends on whether you choose to believe or tap into inner knowing. Consciousness reveals truth.

Liara - That's a very interesting point! Thanks for sharing it. :)

I loved this! I was smiling the whole time I was reading it!

Thank you for stopping by my blog. I'm glad you found me. :)

Debra - I'm so happy that I made you smile! :) Thanks for commenting on my site and I'm so glad I found you too.

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