It's like when you watch a favourite movie with someone who's never seen it before, and you just want them to love it. So badly. You watch their faces for the appropriate reaction when an important scene comes up. You laugh a little too forcefully at the jokes. You gasp as the plot twists, even though you knew it was coming, hoping for a moment of shared appreciation. You rewind parts because you worry they weren't paying attention during that three second interval when they sipped their tea. You want to jump up from the couch and grab them by the shoulders and cry out 'Aren't you totally in love with Harrison Ford right now?' You just really need this poor person to get it. So that their excitement can be yours.
That's how I feel when I'm spending time with the kiddos. So much is being experienced right in front of me and I can't help but watch their faces for the appropriate reaction. Memories of being a kid myself come unbidden and in rapid succession and I crave that second of shared appreciation. Those are the moments in which I want to be wowed by life - because they totally are. And I once was.
My brother's three little girls were over for an afternoon. And suddenly, my ordinary house seemed as big as a cathedral, echoing with the irreverent pounding of little feet tearing from one end to the other and back again. I never really appreciate how much space and light there is until there are children bouncing around inside of it. Dang, my house is beautiful.
And the contents of my kitchen cupboards are suddenly fascinating. My dresser is home to the crown jewels. That awful tatty girl's slip in the toy box that I keep meaning to throw out is a frothy white ballgown, ideal for a repeat performance of 'Let it Go'. My rows of high heels, severely neglected by me in favour of a pair of well-worn chuck taylors, are suddenly the cause of a cacophony of clacking against the laminate floor and I remember a time when I thought that sound was so grown up.
Life for children is rich and savoury. It's layered. It's technicolored. And it's obvious.
How did I not see before how charming it is to dip donuts in glaze and watch the sticky rivulets running over the sides and pooling on the kitchen counter? How did I forget about that stretchy whooshing sound a balloon makes when you blow it up? Or that bubbles made out of liquid dishsoap make you believe in miracles, because hello! They just grow in the water like magic! How astonishing today is. And tomorrow is bound to be equally enthralling. And the day after that. And in and out of weeks and over the years. And then somewhere along the way you decide that you're so much more clever and grounded and sophisticated if you let everything become mundane and pedestrian and eagerly passed over.
We get comfortable with our busy, frazzled boredom.
We convince ourselves that our lives are ordinary so we can justify wanting things we don't need. We make ourselves feel more important by pretending to be constantly besieged by things that don't matter. We turn our days into a series of chores and lists. We forget what it is to feel blessed because we don't want to 'settle'. We become afraid to believe in miracles because what if we ask for one and it isn't granted?
Yeah, we all grow up.
The magic is gone and we catch it up in bits and pieces by sharing a little of theirs.
Aaaand that brings me to the conclusion that many of the unwelcome aspects of growing old are our own damned fault. But that also means that we have the power to undo some of the damage and be inquisitively, joyfully young again.
Funny, when I began this post I thought that I had been seizing their day along with them - but really it was my day to be seized.
I wasn't living vicariously through them for an afternoon, I was just finally living.