Part of the joy of working at local community music and arts centers has been interacting with children. I’m only at these centers a couple of days a week, but they are, without question, the highlight of my week.
I’ve become friends with a number of little ones; the pianist, the writer, the actor, the cellist, the sculptor. Each one of them comes to the center excited for the work they’re about to do, eyes wide at this adventure of creation. I talk to them–and usually not their parents–because they’re more comfortable for me, and typically, the kids are the reason their parents are there in the first place. They’re at such an exciting time in life, when they’re just exploring possibilities, finding out the pieces that click for them.
Tonight, while I was watching a magic performance by one of my young friends, her younger sibling “sat” next to me. It was a kinetic experience, sitting with this child; she was up, she was down, her feet were under her, then behind her, then she stood on the chair, then she knelt, then she leaned on me, then she lay across my lap, then she sat backwards in the chair. When the lights went down, we agreed, we’d be quiet. This worked for about 10 minutes. She took pictures with my phone. I took pictures with my phone. She stuck her face in the camera and told me to take her picture. I’ve attached one here.
I saw some delightful magic acts on stage, but it was the experience of being close to a little one again that charmed me. The squirmy, feisty hands and feet, barely coordinated, warm from bouncing around, flopping around her chair, dancing onto the seat. And when this little sprite, whose mother warned me she was especially affectionate lately, threw her arms around my neck in a fierce hug, I was lost in her pure joy.
Tim and I joke about being in training for becoming grandparents, but when I’m talking to my young friends, I realize I miss teaching, I miss my kids being little, I miss being around young people regularly. There are elements of those activities I don’t miss–discipline, cleaning up after them, listening to Mary Had a Little Lamb over and over–but young people reach me in a way adults don’t. I am introverted around adults, particularly in groups, but I am never introverted around children.
I’ve been told I have a childlike demeanor. Tim says I’m a kid whisperer. I think the truth of the matter is that deep down, I still *am* a child. Or I still want to be. Children are free to wonder and talk to trees and explore and question and play.
I’m lucky to have young people who are so comfortable with me that they’ll throw their arms around my neck or take pictures of my inner ear or make faces at me across the room. If grandparenting means having a built-in little one to play with like this, then I am ready.
For now, I’m glad to have such a persistent and delightful reminder to giggle and wonder and forget about what the world wants me to be.