“This is what it’s all about: to make a child happy. And you know it.” –Woody (Toy Story 2)
I’ve recently been attending weddings like it’s my full-time job. There’s so much to think about (even if you’re not in the wedding). There is showers, parties, gifts, what dress to wear, shoes, how are you going to do your hair? The list goes on and on.
Last night, I sat at my table, twirling my glass of wine, and watched the children. They ran, barefoot and free, throughout the reception hall. They were solving some mystery, but I couldn’t hear enough to figure out the details. The little girl’s puff of a dress trailing behind her as she ran. The little boy blew out the candle on the table next to me. They both giggled. The little kids were the first out on the dance floor and the last to leave. Their world is different.
I remember that world, but what I can’t recall is the feeling. I remember selling lemonade and cookies. I remember the mysteries I tried to solve as a little girl (I still think there are dinosaur bones in the lot next to my childhood home; I just never got around to proving that to my mother). The freedom that is right there in childhood eventually becomes… not encouraged.
The rules our society have created in order to sustain itself doesn’t have a need for imaginative curiosity the childhood way. Businesses may encourage “creativity” and “curiosity” but it must fit into a budget, program, bullet points and time frame. Children know nothing of such things, nor do they have time to worry about something as unnecessary as a budget. They live in a different monetary system.
As adults, we can attempt to re-create this world, but it’s impossible. My mind has already shifted into a different mode. Worries. Stress. Bills. Work. Telephone calls. Faxes. E-mails. Pressure. Chaos. Traffic. You can’t go back.
But you can believe in childhood, and fight for children’s right to experience it.