There’s a universal truth it seems that no one dares to acknowledge because it would undermine everything we tell ourselves true, but in the pursuit of happiness I think it must be said – children have life figured out more than adults do.
Children look at the world simplistically but brilliantly. If you’re nice to them, they like you. If you’re not, they don’t. Children don’t waste their time with ‘office politics’ or social climbing. Instead they take people on face value, give everyone a fair chance and build relationships only with those that make them feel good. Adults? We’ve been jaded as we’ve grown up, turned to gossip and heirarchical structures that we force ourselves to navigate. We have fake friends, friends that we look at to feel better about ourselves and ones we look at to feel worse about ourselves.
Children love wholeheartedly. When I taught at a primary school back in England, I would spend entire break times for weeks and weeks on end discussing Jurassic World with the boys in my class and watching them play dinosaurs simply because they loved it. They loved Jurrassic World and they didn’t care who knew about it. It was the same with people. Their best friend was their best friend, the best person they knew and again they didn’t care who knew about it. They would praise them even when they really weren’t that good at something, lift them up for the world to see and cheer them on like a hero. As adults, it’s almost like we are scared to love anything at all. We are discreet with our hobbies and interests for fear of someone else not liking it as much as we do, even if it means missing out on doing the things that we love. We take human relationships far too seriously. There are rules about when to text someone after a date, which friendship group can socialise with which other friendship groups. We sit for hours on end discussing and analysing messages from potential partners, typing out responses and deleting them for fear of seeming to clingy or too feisty or too desperate. We make relationships a minefield and take the person out of the people we know.
Children act first before thinking. They climb trees without thinking of the danger, they put their hand up on instinct without even having the answer to a question. Children lead with their gut. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard adults say “I wish I’d have listened to my gut”. When we are faced with a decision or a choice we think… and then we think a little more… and then we think again just in case we missed any points the first time. By then, all the fun has been taken out of whatever we do anyway. Admittedly on some occasions impulse actions might have their drawbacks, but I can’t think of a single person who wouldn’t benefit from getting out of their own head every now and then and simply just doing what they want.
Children aren’t afraid ask questions but more importantly children learn from the answers that they get. To a child, the world is one big playground for adventures and to explore. Children might ask uncomfortable or embarrassing questions but they never have the arrogance to assume that they already know everything. When you teach a child something, they listen and they learn. They take what you say away with them and use it to grow. As adults, if someone says “any questions?’ The room stays silent, even if sometimes there is a question burning away that you want to ask. We would rather walk away ignorant and ill informed than risk someone thinking we don’t know something. We fear judgement or ridicule from our peers, but what is there to ridicule about someone who admits that they don’t know the answer to everything? It’s okay not to know everything. It’s okay to be curious.
We can blame responsibility and jobs and societal pressures all we like but really the truth is that somewhere along the way we chose to stop listening to our inner childlike voice. You know the one I mean – the one that says having that Freak Shake is a good idea, the one that says invite your best friend over for a sleepover, the one that belly laughs without caring who is looking or how goofy they look. At some point in time we all tell that voice to be quiet, now isn’t the time, I don’t want to hear it. At some point in time we lose ourself.
Today my fiancé and I went for a swim, but instead of swimming we threw my sunglasses to the bottom and took it in turns to dive for them and retrieve them. It was a game I used to play with my siblings when we were younger on family holidays. Those times spent in the pool with my brother and sister were some of the happiest times in my childhood. I felt closer to them than ever. Today I was reminded why I had agreed to marry this person who was diving for my sunglasses like he was a spy on a mission that would save the world and teaching me the ‘salmon’ dive (where you jump in the water like a fish trying to get back in the sea, in case you were wondering) when I asked him to. Watching him triumphantly hold my Accessorize specials in the air made my heart burst. With this person I don’t have to silence any voice in me. With this person I dive for the sunglasses and get them every time.
So often we brush children away, laughing at the silly, innocent things they say and thinking we know better. Children have never started wars. Children have never trolled someone. Children have never lost the person they love because they just couldn’t say how they felt. Purposefully create room for utter childishness, make impulse decisions, constantly question and learn, unashamedly and wholeheartedly love – make your child self happy.
So next time you’re faced with an opportunity to listen to that little voice that you so often silence, silence your adult voice instead, take the plunge and dive for those sunglasses – you won’t regret it.