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A Little More Childlike

Updated: Jul 15

I love living near a park. Voices dance across our yard: kids laughing, parents chatting, the thud of basketballs, and adolescent cheers. 

My favorite loop takes me past the swings. A mother sits on the bench, watching, waiting. A small boy, maybe four or five years old, catches my eye as I walk through. On the very tips of his tiny mesh sneakers, his young arms search above his head to catch the baby swing he’s pushing. The path brings me closer and I see that he’s mimicking what must have been his own experience many times before. Inside the protective baby seat, he has strapped in a rubber ball, striped in red, green, and blue. Confident in his charge’s security, he pushes the swing higher and higher. Each time he stretches backward a little further, trying to catch enough of his small fingers to propel the ball even further. His hands reach into the sun. The chains of the old swing set rattle with the weight of the play. That wet, almost-new scent of spring is heavy in the sunny breeze. I can almost hear his imagination running as he pretends to push his “baby,” gearing up for an underdog. 

This is such a staple of childhood: those moments where we hold on our tippy-toes, straining for adult-ish actions. We play, we strive; we yearn to be older, look older, do older things. We practice growing up and doing what our parents, siblings, and protectors do. 

These days I’d like to swing right back to this era. My heart longs for the childish play and carefree afternoons in the park. I want to hold on to those childlike thoughts that are unfiltered by anxious adult imaginings. Confidence in exploring . . . freedom from fear of reproof . . . joy that is unhindered by the next best plan. 

Going into this next season, I can tell this will be one of those images that stays with me. It is a gift to remind me to permit that inner child to have a voice. It will remind me that the future doesn’t need to be quite so serious. These beautiful moments don’t last forever. Instead of pushing into what comes next and creating the most efficient plan, I can be a little more at peace. I can accept the timing of the hour, the day, the year and enjoy it. 

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