The Joys of Childhood
I believe in the joys of childhood. Parents and society pressure children to grow up. I think children are too often forced to grow up faster than they should. And while growing up is an important part of life, I believe that you can succeed while still enjoying the games and magic of childhood. In fact, I think the happiest adults are those who embrace childlike games their entire lives.
At 22 I have yet to give up any of the games I loved as a child. I was eight when my sister and I invented the opposite game. “It’s time to get ready for bed,” my mom told us. My sister and I looked at each other, we smiled. “Ok,” we said, and in that moment the opposite game was invented. After several demands for us to get ready for bed, my mom stood up from the coffee table, ready to drag us into obedience. “But Mom, today is opposite day,” I said. So she told us not to go hop into bed. Defeated, but not entirely, we bent our knees and hopped like rabbits down the hall and into bed. I still play the opposite game and hop into bed on occasion. I also pretend red tiles in grocery stores are hot lava, I make forts in my living room, and I like to spend hours coloring with my box of 120 Crayola Crayons. I encourage everyone to play these games; they are guaranteed stress reducers.
While indoor games are fun, nothing beats playing outside. A child can imagine elaborate playgrounds into existence. Ordinary trees are transformed, miniscule yards turn into magical kingdoms, and the fence becomes a watch post for spying on the enemy. While I don’t spy on the neighbors through a peek-hole in the fence anymore, I still enjoy playing outside. I like to jump on trampolines for so long that my legs give and I fall down in a fit of laughter. I seek out the best parks where I can swing so high that if I stretch my legs and point my toes I can touch the tree branch that seems impossible to reach. I love to skip while swinging my arms and singing out loud. I like to hopscotch anywhere, anytime, with or without chalk to draw the squares on the blacktop. These are all silly little activities, and yet they are impossible to do without smiling; no matter how old I get, I refuse to quit smiling.
Many of the happiest, most loved adults are those who embrace childhood. These adults can be successful and responsible, but they remind everyone else to smile, to laugh, to play. Someday I will be married and have kids of my own. I hope I never tell them to stop acting like children because I believe in the opposite game, in play grounds, in hopscotch. In so many ways, I believe in playing like a kid.
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