Let me tell you about my first day at work.
I followed my boss to a nearby elementary school in my neighborhood, where I was surrounded by children.
We’ve talked about children before, yeah?
I love them. They’re fun
, especially when you can give them back to their parents.
I think that they’re way better to be around than adults because they’re honest and pretty much always in the moment.
You see how they feel about everything on their little chubby faces that are sticky with apple juice.
They ask for what they want without shame, warning or, sometimes, reason.
They are the reason I love that quote, “The creative adult is the child who survived.”
But they also have so much energy. So, so much.
The year I turned 30, when I went to Disney World and felt like I was being punished for being a single woman because there were kids having meltdowns everywhere, I totally thought – “Thank you, Jesus, for knowing that I am not prepared to be a parent.”
Pets. Pets are where it’s at. They might pee on your stuff when they’re mad, but they can’t scream like you’re killing them when all you said was, “No, you can’t have that mouse-shaped cookie.”
Before I walked in there, I was also caught up in this idea about my Real Writer self. She is the adult, savvy one who never makes mistakes and has perfect boundaries and also rarely has an iota of fun. Because she’s busy. There is the future to think about.
Also, the Real Writer is kinda stuffy. She keeps a lot of love to herself. She’s not really into this whole love the world, kumbaya thing I’m starting to warm up to.
So, I walked in, trying to be the Real Writer.
Oh, but there were hats. And cookies.
After we got our borrowed red and white Cat in the Hat hats (yes!! I wore one, even though it didn’t quite fit) several adults were assigned to read to a few classes for Dr. Seuss Day. And then we were split up into three groups to read. A librarian (swoon) said that we were about to have the most non-judgmental audience ever.
But I was still a little nervous. Because kids are so little and gentle. I worry that I will say something stupid and they’ll be scarred forever.
I know, logically, that they’re resilient like I have been. They are strong. They can take it. But I basically tend to stay away from them because I respect them, and I feel like they deserve the best, and to be around people who are absolutely, totally excited to be in their midst.
I’m usually more reserved than that. But I was happy to be different for them, for a change. I got so much back just by being open.
“Oh, the Thinks You’ll Think” was my book.
I got three or four pages in before a sweet little brown-haired girl interrupted me to say, “Excuse me, I like your hair.”
“Oh, thank you.” I smiled at her. I paused. I tried to keep reading.
“I can play the violin” a little black girl said.
“I play the viola,” a blonde girl said.
“Can I try on your hat?” a fidgety brown boy said.
So I relinquished it. They were passing around the while I finished the story.
“Read another one!” they said. Their teacher smiled wisely at me, handed me “Green Eggs and Ham” and so I did.
“I don’t think I’ve read this one,” I muttered.
“He likes green eggs and ham!”
“I think they’re delicious.”
“I like this book!”
Before I knew it, it was over, and I was more sad than I thought I’d be to be leaving them.
The little brown-haired girl stopped me on my way out of the door and said, “Excuse me,” and then gave my hips a hug with her whole body and walked away.
It was the best hug I’d had in a long time. It made my whole month. It also made me think, “Maybe those kids know a lot more than I thought.”