I have a confession to make. For years, I really had little use for kids.
I used to have a near magical ability to entertain kids and engage them in a way that other adults just didn’t get. But I didn’t enjoy doing it. It was like an elaborate act, and it was hard to keep up.
I was fascinated by my ability to do this, and I really didn’t want to disappoint the kids, so I kept up the charade. But otherwise I would avoid events where there would be kids who had no other kids to play with, because I knew that I would be on “entertainment duty.”
Why did I do this? Well for one thing, I was also a major wallflower at social events. So, as much work as it was for me to keep up with the children, it was still preferable to mindless chit-chat with the adults. At least, that was how it felt to me.
As you can imagine, I never really liked social gatherings.
While I was growing up my parents taught me that adults were not allowed to act like kids. Children were adults in waiting. Adults were what mattered. And, as an adult, it was my job to buckle down and pull my weight in this world. There was simply no room for childish thinking.
I’ve come a long way since those days. And I now understand why I had such an impact on those kids way back when. I looked into their eyes. I engaged them as human beings. I may not have been interested in whatever game they were involved in at the moment, but I believed that they deserved the respect of my focused attention.
The other adults inevitably acted as my parents always acted. They functioned on a level “above” the kids. They spoke above them, literally, and in terms of language, style and focus. Essentially, most adults just ignored the kids as they did the dog.
Or they talked cute talk to them. And kids are not dumb. They know when you are patronizing them. But they put up with it because they have no other choice.
Kids are just like anyone else. They just want to be acknowledged. And they want to engage and be engaged.
Unlike adults, however, kids have an energy that comes from a belief that life is terrific, that tomorrow is an exciting prospect, and that the future will be amazing.
Adults generally dread tomorrow. Tomorrow means another problem at work that they will have to solve. It means another day doing things that they wouldn’t be doing “if only” they were (rich, powerful, famous, etc.).
Adults have generally given up on their lives. And as they get older, many adults seem to go insane. They get bitter. Some become obsessed. They often smile less and less. Not all of them, mind you, but far too many.
It is that last fact that contributes greatly to how I feel about kids and grown-ups today.
Yes, the energy that kids exude is often utterly exhausting to even watch. My head won’t turn fast enough to keep up with them.
But it doesn’t matter. They know who I am. They know that I’m an old coot (compared to them). Yet they are fascinated by all of the things that they can learn from me. And I am fascinated by all of the things that I can learn from them.
As I see it today, I really don’t have much use for dried-up old attitudes and bitter old Grinches. These are pitiful people and I feel real compassion for them, but they are black holes of psychic energy and even being around them sucks the soul right out of me.
So, I find myself rejecting all that I learned on this Earth about how to act and how to live as an adult. Instead, today I just follow my instincts. And that often means that I follow the kids.
All the best,