A few weeks back, I blogged about getting in touch with my inner child: the one for whom everything is amazing, wonderful, and worth checking out. And nothing is too silly to try out just once.
Then I created a self-portrait to reflect the inner child at play and to remind myself not to take life so seriously all the time.
I decided I needed to take this idea a step further. I should let my inner child write the blog. So I invited her to step up to the computer and take over. “Have at it,” I said. “Say what you want. It will be fun.”
Big problem: it appears I have a recalcitrant inner child. I showed up at the computer every day last week, but she didn’t. Isn’t that just like a child – never wants to perform on demand, especially if the parent is wanting to show her off.
What do you do when your child won’t come out of hiding? I called my friend Trudy. “Hey, Trudy, my inner child has disappeared. Have you seen her?” “Just a minute,” said Trudy as she laid down the phone. I could hear some rustling in the background, and I could hear her asking her cats Jack and Oliver if they’d seen my inner child. Then she picked up the receiver. “Nope, she isn’t here,” she said. “And now that you mention it, my inner child has disappeared too. I’m thinking they might just be hanging out together, in some dark corner, reading books and ignoring us.”
Well, that makes sense. Our inner children have been kept in the basement for so long while we’ve been busy being grownups, they’ve forgotten the sound of our voices. These poor little things could just shrivel up and die of neglect. This is not a good situation. “When childhood dies, its corpses are called adults and they enter society, one of the politer names for hell,” says Brian Aldiss. Strong words, indeed! But there’s some truth in them.
|looks like a pile of blocks, doesn't it?|
Google will tell you about this museum, about university studies in play, about conferences focusing on adult play, and many more things. Play is art, books, movies, music, comedy, flirting and daydreaming; lack of play is just as important as other factors in predicting criminal behavior among murderers in Texas prisons; playing together helps couples rekindle their relationship; play can even facilitate deep connections between strangers and cultivate healing. Etc. Etc.
What Google does not do is entice your inner child to come out and play. She just wouldn’t write the blog for me. I was stumped.
Just then, the phone rang. My son told us he was taking the beautiful grandchild Grace to swim in the river by our house and invited us to watch. We were in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave, and the invite sounded good. The inner child stirred. “Put on your bathing suit,” she whispered. “Nah,” said the adult, “The water’s cold and there’s too many slippery rocks on the bottom of the river.” When we got to the river, there they were, having the time of their lives, giggling and jumping and splashing.
“Get in there, for goodness sake,” the inner child urged impatiently, much more loudly this time. “But I’ve got a dress on,” I argued. “So what?” said the inner child. “Get in there. I’m coming in with you.”
So I (and my inner child) splashed into the water. It sure felt good. There were perfectly sane adults on the beach, watching me and wondering who the crazy old lady was, but my inner child ignored them. I even put my face in the water and blew bubbles with Gracie and her mom. My dress got pretty wet and my feet slipped on the rocks and the water was cold, but it was all good. We giggled. We laughed. We had fun, like playing kids do.
It turns out, if you want to meet your inner child, you should just stop trying to be a smart know-it-all adult. You have to keep your ears open and listen. Your inner child is there, but she's playing hide and seek. If you listen carefully, you may hear her whispering your name. Be sure to follow and see where she leads.
And then again, maybe I’m on to something here. Maybe the inner child has morphed into a crazy old lady having fun. Maybe I should let her out more often.
And maybe she’ll write my blog, too.