First published Sunday, June 29, 2014
Since Thursday, I’ve been working from home as my youngest son has quietly weathered the ‘joys’ of chickenpox. Fortunately he’s quite happy to entertain himself on occasion, and aside from CBeebies being on rather more than I would ideally like, he’s continued to be his usual cheerful cheeky self in the most part (thank you Calpol ™ and Piriton ™ for your help!).
This morning, I was sat with him on the sofa, and watching one of the more obviously educational programmes on CBeebies with him – I forget the name – where Andy plays a museum curator in the dinosaur section and time travels back to walk with the dinosaurs as he collects various items for the displays. Through clever graphics and animations, you get to see various dinosaurs and their habitat, and get a sense of what it may well have looked like at the time, and through the eyes of a three year old boy it’s quite exciting. I watched him as he watched the programme, seeing his eyes grow wide in wonder, information flooding in and ideas and questions coming together. He, like my other children, has an amazing capacity for knowledge and information and frequently more so that I give him, and them, credit for.
He’s not yet jaded by the world he lives in or the negativity, sadness, cruelty or chaos we seem to generate or attract as we get older. Every morning, even when he’s covered and spots and with a perfect excuse to be grumpy, he wakes with a smile, and invariably a giggle as he hides under the duvet waiting to be ‘found’ (it’s a great way to start the day too – he’s never yet failed to make me laugh in the morning with this trick). Where I may see just another rain shower, or just another slide in the park, he will question how it works, what makes it rain, playing games and inventing stories to go with the activity he’s doing. In the last couple of days, he’s begged to go to the park when there’s been no one else there “who might catch my spots” and has enjoyed countless goes on the slide, really just enjoying the moment and having fun.
He’s played in the bath, delighting in splashing his toys, dressing Action Man ™ in a wetsuit and inventing stories around that too. He’s blown handfuls of bubbles across the bath, and then played hide and seek under the towel on getting out (cue much more giggling!) He’s clearly keen to go back to school and enjoy time with his friends again, but in the meantime we’ve found countless story books, toys and more to pass the time, and he’s helped me move furniture about, having happily left me in peace to do some work during the week too.
What’s struck me, particularly this morning, was that perhaps we could all do with keeping a little more ‘child-likeness’ about us. I don’t mean the less attractive traits (think toddler tantrums, petulance and sibling bickering), but the fresh approach to things, the constantly inquiring mind keen to learn new things, the awe and wonder on learning new things, discovering new tastes, sights, sounds and more. Children take great joy in telling you the new things they’ve discovered and learned about, and will then equally as happily go and play, sing, run, jump and go get muddy. Being an adult does of course bring responsibility with it, but why does that seem to mean we forget how to appreciate the world and people around us.
It’s also really refreshing sometimes to just stop being a grown up for a bit, and get down and play with children. From building kits, to painting and colouring, or playing snakes and ladders, it’s great to take some time out and refresh and recharge by just doing something for the inner child. Reading a story together, playing cars, making a den in the garden or bouncing up and down on the trampoline, it’s all free, fun and revitalising. My few days at home, whilst requiring work to be done as well have, and will continue to whilst the spots are still crusting (just how long can chicken pox last?!), given me a chance to take a few moments and remember to look at things afresh, through the eyes of a (slightly!) older child, and appreciate the wonder, beauty, simplicity and magic of what is around me and what I have. Give it a go, and enjoy!