I'm sitting here, writing, in the middle of a thunderstorm. And the storm is making me think about the kids that I babysit for in the summer; they always have a tough time falling asleep during a thunderstorm, which is totally understandable. What little kid isn't afraid of thunder and lightning? Their combination, their marriage, is loud and scary and bright and so incredibly in-your-face.
And I find myself always trying to explain the fear away by telling them that it's just nature, that they're safe -- that the thunder and lightning cannot and will not hurt them. But cold logic doesn't work with kids like it works with adults. And it makes me wonder: when did I become an adult? When did cold, hard logic make me steely against the things I cannot control? When did I stop being afraid of thunder and lightning? And what else have I lost along with that fear?
I remember my childhood in vignettes. The bedroom curtains that frightened me with the warped faces I saw in them instead of flowers. The first time I swallowed gum and lost my mind thinking I was growing a gum tree inside of my tiny belly. Climbing into my parents' bed early Saturday mornings and snuggling between my sleeping mother and father. Those are only a couple. My childhood was beautiful.
And I think something that most people can agree on is the beauty of childhood. The purity of thought that children have allows them to see the world through fresh eyes, through a lens that adults cannot even access. As adults, we like to think that it's simple naivety that drives this outlook on life. But I think that maybe it's more, or maybe it's different, or maybe it's just something we cannot even begin to understand.
I was once a child. We all were. We believed in once upon a time and fairy dust and something bigger and better waiting just on the horizon. We believed that our parents were invincible. We believed that we could do anything we set our hearts to. We believed that people were good.
Maybe I'm particularly jaded, but I don't think I have that pure childhood optimism for life that I used to. I don't see potential in every little thing or compare people to oysters (this actually happened) or roll around on the floor, covered in newspaper, laughing without reserve. I don't do things with reckless abandon or react to thunder and lightning in visceral ways, because logic always stops me from acting too much like a kid. It protects me from feeling too much of that infectious childhood freedom. But maybe we're not meant to see the world like children. Maybe that's part of what makes them so beautiful, so precious. Maybe we're just here to clean up the mess and protect the good that children see and feel and are for as long as we can.