Leaving Neverland

Why is it that some days staying in the world of childhood is so easy?  It takes no effort at all to get down at their level and move at that slower, but much busier, pace, to ignore the mess, to stay calm and know that everything will happen and get done in its own time?

And some days it’s so hard- so hard to ignore the piles of laundry, the grit underneath your bare feet, the constant whirlwind of adult thoughts and worries that swirl around your mind?

Of course it’s because we are just that- adults.  We no longer see as children. Our view of the world and our interpretations of situations are colored by our experiences, our memories, our biases, our fears.  We have learned to make connections, to see and understand things at a deeper level, and that make it harder to pretend, to see the magic worlds captured within the tiny landscapes scattered all around us .

Today was an easy day.  Easy to sit on the floor and play trucks, to enter into the pretend world of our little construction site.  Easy to ignore the mess of the sand as it was dropped on the floor “again” and “again” in larger and larger quantities as our bulldozer, dump truck and bucket truck became more coordinated and drove deeper into our plot line.

We are not Peter Pan, although we may envy him.  Most days I feel more like one of the lost boys, torn between a yearning for childish mischief and adventure and the longing of a mother’s comforting embrace.  This allows me to understand Casey’s experience of the world so much more. People always talk about the “terrible two’s” with an eye roll or a head shake and a sympathetic, knowing tone.  Yes, there are days when tantrums rule and it is a constant battle to do anything.  But more often then not it is a fascinating adventure to see Casey grow and begin to understand and use language, to make those larger, intricate connections that give him a new way to comprehend and navigate the world around him.  Being two isn’t terrible but rather like being one of the lost boys, temporarily.  It is a transition between being a baby and becoming a child. Becoming comfortable with all the new feelings and sensations involved in growing up, resisting them at times and embracing them at others, working through the frustration that accompanies learning and celebrating those ‘aha’ moments when the pieces finally fall into place.

If we, as adults and parents, can simply understand that this transition is better done with ease and compassion, then it helps our children learn to cope as they begin to experiment with entering into a more adult world.

Because Casey, too, has times when he finds it easy to enter into his version of an adult world and days when it is hard.  He’s my “good helper,” something he proclaims as he carries trucks and tools and plastic planters up the driveway when we work in the garden, as he follows my around the yard digging holes in the dirt, when he picks up his toys, or helps me vacuum or wash dishes.  He is equally fascinated with the tasks of housecleaning as he is enthralled in the world of our pretend construction site.  He is not distracted with what he should do but rather fully engrossed with what he is doing.

When I can follow this example, it becomes easy to enter into the world of childhood and let the adult cares float away on the wind.  It is easier to laugh and to dance and to feel that sense of carefree that so often avoided once we are older.  Today, I let myself find that freedom to play and to laugh and to dance and low and behold, despite, or maybe because of, the grit beneath our bare feet, everything happened and got done exactly as it was supposed to.

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