A point of view
September 4, 2013 § 10 Comments
Monday did not start well. By the time I’d finished mind dumping my to-do list into my diary, there were 13 items, which I took to be unlucky. Then I missed the back step and fell clumsily into the kitchen, banging my elbows on the tiles. All of this happened before 8am, which did not bode well for the rest of the day.
And then, to add insult to injury, the first item on my agenda was buying a new school jersey and blazer for my daughter, which didn’t really feel like something to look forward to. Apart from the expense, the prospect of the back-to-school queues in the school clothing shop could make even the most hardened shopper shake at the knees.
But as I drove to the shops, a throwaway comment by my 11-year-old gave me pause. I was busy warning her that we didn’t have a lot of time in which to complete our errand, and that we might have to go in search of the shop, which was in temporary premises while its usual home was being renovated.
“That’s okay, Mom,” she piped up from the back seat. “We can think of it as a treasure hunt.”
I should make it clear that I’m not a huge fan of the all-pervasive motivational, inspirational think-yourself-thin-and-successful-and-rich brigade. But I did like the way she reframed that; it’s typical of the way children think. And it got me thinking: when did I become a grown-up? And why?
Why don’t I run and jump anymore? When did I stop splashing in puddles? Why don’t I climb trees? Or run up the stairs? Or slide down banisters? When did I become this responsible, obsessive planner of my every minute and forget to be spontaneous?
Last week, when I was back in my hometown, I took my girls to one of the favourite beaches of my childhood, a beach famous for its huge sand dunes and wild cross-currents. We were there to walk and splash and be blown about by the wind for an hour or two. As we looked down at the waves from the top of a dune, they remarked that it was a pity we didn’t have something to slide down on.
When I told them they could simply roll down the dunes, and it was a lot of fun, they didn’t believe me, so I lay down in the sand and demonstrated. With some cajoling, they followed suit. And I can’t speak for them, but it might have been the best thing I did all day, even if it was undignified and slightly terrifying. Even if I did sit in the sand for a bit while the world stopped whirling. It left me feeling exhilarated from the sheer silliness of it all.
Of course, I can’t get away from my responsibilities completely – that’s ridiculous. I do still need to do a lot of grown-up things, but I hope I remember to be a child sometimes; to build that spontaneity into my day and remember to see life as an adventure or a treasure hunt rather than an endless list of chores and tasks to be completed.
And I’m grateful for the sand that found its way into the strangest places – my pockets, my ears, my shoes. I hope that when I find a stray grain that has stubbornly resisted washing and shaking out, that I’ll remember to lie down and roll down that sand dune, just because it’s fun.