“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up.”–Pablo Picasso
In London last month, at the I Can Do It! conference, I conducted a reverse finishing school for adults. Here’s why.
Kids know important stuff, stuff we mature adults work very hard to unteach them. But maybe instead of urging our children to “be careful” and “act responsible,” we should follow their lead.
Here are the top six things preschoolers have over us:
1. Make believe. You don’t have to tell a kid that “anything is possible.” They’re pros at “pretend” or what behavioral specialists call visualization. Olympic athletes, in fact, spend nearly as many hours mentally rehearsing their success as they do physically practicing. Well, duh? our kids could tell us. They don’t need anyone’s permission to be a pilot or a doctor or an architect. They’re already flying around the room and healing their dolls’ boo-boos and building sand castles. They know popsicle sticks can be boats, batons or bridges over moats. Or better yet, lined up all the way to Bulgaria.
2. The opposite game. Remember how much fun it was to state everything backwards, to say “I don’t like you very much” which, of course, meant “You are everything to me.” If we could only realize that our political opponents and anyone else who disagrees with us or nags at us or call us names are really just playing “the opposite game.” Then we could quit taking everything so personally and remember that the biggest secret in the world is “we all really love each other.”
3. Tag, you’re it. Instead of hogging all the attention, kids chase each other around and parlay being “it.” And, needless to say, we all want to be “it” from time to time.
4. Cry when they’re hurt. Instead of pretending to be all “cool” and “together,” kids just lay it on the line. The only games they play are for fun. They don’t care what color or sexual orientation or religion a playmate is. In fact, they don’t notice differences at all. I have a friend who lost his arm when he was in the Navy. Until kids get to the age of 5 or so, they don’t even notice that he’s missing his right arm. It’s remarkable the day kids he’s known since they were babies suddenly notice. “What happened to your arm?” they ask in utter amazement. Of course, their mom’s give them dirty looks and tell them to “pipe down.”
5. Show-and-tell. Think how much closer we’d all be if we stopped long enough to honor one another in a circle of show-and-tell. If we listened to one another’s stories, looked at each other’s creations. Why isn’t this a normal thing? Every week or so we should get together with families and friends and show them something we really like, something unique about us. Bring in some doodle we made on the side of a Visa bill or something we thought up while waiting at the dry cleaners. Adults still think things up. We just don’t tell anyone. We don’t think it’s important. Not with lawns that need mowing and mufflers that need fixing.
6. What’s the hurry? If you want to expand your world, go on a walk with a five-year-old. They notice everything. The sun glinting off the mud puddle. The snail making figure eights of slime along the sidewalk. The hawk perched on the neighbor’s mailbox. Sure, you know everybody’s Facebook status registered on a little screen. But preschoolers? They know everything else.
Pam Grout is the author of 17 books including E-Squared: 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality and the just-released sequel, E-Cubed, 9 More Experiments that Prove Mirth, Magic and Merriment is your Full-time Gig.
Love it! I’m going to go tag someone and make them “it”…
Thanks for sharing ! I am thinking it would be fun to put a spin on a few of the concepts and make a FB game out it. Just a thought that came into my head as I was reading. Much gratitude
Marvelous post! Thanks. I taught elementary children for 43 years and learned so much from them! Yes, they do these things quite naturally! Also, your post touched a personal accord. When I was born and for years after, until his death, my father’s brother lived with us. It was like having two marvelous father-figures. My uncle had an arm amputated in a railroading accident when he was 18 years old. I grew up just thinking his disability was just normal for him and had no notice of this. Later as I became more aware that he had only one arm, I remember being unbelieving at the way society had discriminated against this intelligent, able man. In the years after his accident, in the early 1900’s, he did get a money settlement from the railroad, but could find no employment. No one would hire a man who had only one arm, even for desk jobs that required no use of the missing left arm, no manual work jobs that he could perform well. He did work in our family greenhouse business. Adults thought his disability was significant when my friends and I, as children did not even notice any difference in him!
Love everything you write! Must tell you, a few days ago my monitor quit. While I was searching for a new one at all the usual stores online, a man came into my office for his appointment and I found my mouth saying “something’s telling me to ask you if you have a monitor that’s not being used.” He made a long pause, blinked a few times and replied “yes, I do.” He brought in a near new fabulous flat screen with built in speakers to replace my 10 year old CRT. He asked only about 1/4 of what it was worth which is exactly what I wanted to spend – and no more. Further, I cleaned up my entire work station and files and I just love it there again. This type of thing is happening because I’m reading a chapter a day from either E2 or E3. Thank you so much Pam!
I love reading your posts and am trying to apply more of your ideas into my life. I have to say though that in my 65 years it is not my experience that all people love one another.
Lutz, here’s my take: Everybody loves what they think can love them back.
But they usually seek wrongly, in the forms of safety, comfort, and approval – because people believe they need validation via external things.
So, not finding what they think they are looking for, they withhold it too by lashing-out at the world and others.
And not understanding why Jesus would say to love your neighbor AS yourself – which produces a much different result.
Love all of it!
lets all find our inner child again & have fun!
What a cool post, Pam.
The greatest gift any of my four sons has ever given me is allowing me to be their father. Among other things, they teach me to remain childlike (and make sure I’m not childish, to the best of their abilities).
That child named “Pam” and “Greg” (and every other adult reading this) is still just as alive as our current adult time-space experience. And, as I’m sure many have discovered, we can dialogue with those previous time-space experiences. In fact, doing so is usually very rewarding.
Thank you for the reminder that we don’t have to lose the best things from our “pre-jaded”, children’s perspectives. Each day is truly an exciting opportunity to be fully alive!