Childhood is “supposed” to be a time of joy, wonderment, and exploration. It also involves a number of mistakes, fighting against authority, and sometimes making choices that ultimately end up creating lifelong consequences. In theory, children should be able to learn the basics that they need to learn, while still experiencing fun, making friends, and enjoying their life.
Something happens when we turn 18 years old, and it is fairly unclear why that particular age is considered to be the age at which you are suddenly 100% responsible for everything you do. At age 17 years and 360 days your parents still have to sign you in to college (it was quite embarrassing, by the way), but at 18 years and 1 day, you can sign yourself in. I imagined that I would feel so very much more like an adult the day after my 18thbirthday. I would guess that many of you felt the same way, especially if you were lucky enough to still have your parent’s supporting you when you turned 18 years old, and so you were trying to be an adult while still following someone else’s rules.
But once we turn 18 years old, we are expected to behave in a different way. Unfortunately, much of what we are expected to stop doing, actually helps us be the very people that we are. For example, “adult coloring books” have only become a thing in the past few years, but coloring is a fantastic tool to help you focus on something else, and I absolutely do recommend coloring. When was the last time you went on a swing? Or jumped on a trampoline? Yesterday, during my work out, I got to skip around my back yard. It was awesome!!!
When was the last time your child, nephew, or neighbor asked you to play a game and you really jumped in and played? What about building with legos? Or playing with barbies? I am one of those VERY SPECIAL people who absolutely LOVES what I do. Part of what I love is that I get to play every day. Being at home and doing tele-health has been extremely difficult for me, as I know it has been for my patients. I do not think I actually personally appreciated how much I love to play, and how much it did for my soul, until I am no longer able to do it in the same way that I used to. I challenge you, today, to set a 20-minute alarm on your microwave, and put your phone down, and just PLAY with your child. Do not check your phone, do not think that your microwave actually broke, the timer is working, promise! Just play. Give yourself, and your children, your full attention and play with them. Enjoy the moment. Do you remember the episode of the TV Show Friends where Phoebe runs? She runs a bit silly, but when she talks about it, she talks about how much FUN she has when she runs. It is not a chore for her to run, because she is having fun while she is doing it. Not everything in life has to be a chore, make it fun!
I am NOT suggesting that you treat others the way that you treated them when you were a child, or at least not a teenager. Even if you were a child who behaved very well, we should all have learned to be even better towards others. I do not utilize personal social media, for a variety of reasons, but I thought that I would “branch out” and utilize the Next Door App, just putting my toe in to the idea of doing personal social media. It is so disappointing! People are mean to each other, they bully each other from behind a computer, they complain about the smallest things, and no one seems to be able to have anything positive to say! This was so very reminiscent of high school, that I was quickly, swiftly and sadly reminded of why I have always avoided personal social media. And I realize that perhaps I am part of the problem, because I do not stand up to “trolls” or continue to try to use it in a positive way, but those who sit behind their computers seem to have so much time and energy to spread negativity, and I do not have the energy or time to try to argue with them, particularly because I know that I “cannot win”. Instead, I choose to spread positivity, and for me, that means staying away from people and places that focus so much on negativity. I think I will go and do some painting, and sing to myself in the mirror, instead. Or maybe I will use sidewalk chalk and leave a nice message, or play a little Mario cart. Not a killer video game, just a game that makes me smile.
Adults who behave like teenagers in their relationships tend to really struggle in maintaining healthy relationships. In fact, many of these people have mental health conditions that they struggle to manage. Accepting others and just wanting to have positive interactions with others, just like young children do, is actually an amazing way of being. Have you ever noticed that two four year old children will play on the playground together, and one will run over and say “that’s my best friend” and when you ask what their name is, the child does not know. The child is not interested in things like names, the child just wants to BE with that other child. Just engage with others. We are all going through something, and you do not know anyone else’s story, and they do not know yours. Let’s connect and play, like children! Behave like a child today, and see how it feels!