I am sitting crouched under the bar, and my eyes still aren’t adjusted to the lack of light. Creepy Halloween music plays in the background, and I’m playing that game where you close your eyes, click your heels together, and pretend you’re Dorothy.
“There’s no place like home,” I say, and my friend laughs from the other side of the bar where she’s sitting in a gigantic bag designed to wrap awkward Christmas presents.
I wait to be found, sighing when I hear the high-pitched scream my friend makes when she’s discovered. I know now that no matter what, I’m not IT.
Did I mention we’re 20?
Or that being IT is still worse than anything on the planet? That we still play Nose Goes to avoid being chosen?
It doesn’t matter how old we are, though, or how many years worth of stock we’ve put in playing hide-and-seek in the dark with the lights off. Because we’re all allowed to be a kid. In fact, if we’re smart, we’ll turn to childhood a thousand times before our lives end.
The thing about kids that gets me is their contagious happiness.
I sell baby clothes. I’ve watched hundreds of kids walk into the store, see the Hopscotch painted on the floor, and get all giddy with excitement. They tug and tug at their parents’ arms, pointing in case they didn’t get the message.
“Watch me,” they yell, running over and fighting over whose turn it is to go.
What I wish for them, and for everyone else in this world, is for that to be enough sometimes. There are so many bad moments, bad situations we find ourselves in, and yet kids are often blissfully unaware.
It’s raining, so they splash in the puddles. The ice cream truck is rolling down the street, so they ask for a Rocket Pop. It doesn’t matter that the blue and red juice is running down their arm, or that it’s not the most nutritionally sound choice for a snack. There will be other moments to care about that. Now is not one of those times.
What if it never had to be one of those times? What if we could all be better at separating work from play, and in the process, feel less guilty about how we want to spend our free time?
As long as we’re not hurting anyone else, if we want to go to the water park on a scorching Saturday afternoon, or the drive-thru at one a.m., that should be nobody’s problem but our own.
We are never too old to learn from the kids in our lives.
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