Learning To Live As A Child

spencer with butterfly on handI sat in the middle of a field of clover yesterday, cold spring wind chilling my bones while my insides were warmed by discovery.
I sat in the middle of a playground yesterday, not as a mother or grandmother, but as a new friend to small children.

And I walked through the backdoor of childhood and saw the world through the portal of wonder. It was as if I were a little Alice for an hour or two. But you don’t get there in the blink or the nod or the snap you might think.

No it is a slower dance than even I thought it would be.

Re-entering the world of little ones. You walk gently into sacred territory with respect and eyes wide open to wonder.

And it looks like  preparing for a make believe wedding with clover bridesmaids bouquets. And it smells like dirt balls thrown high to the sky. They are snow or dirt or sand. You speak it and they are changed.It feels like ice-cold metal chain. You hold the chain while you push the swing and if its March and Spring is late, the metal is cold as blocks of ice on your trembling flesh.

When I pulled the white down comforter up over my memories of the day and tucked myself into bed I remembered. I remembered what I learned from being a child, the stirring of emotions my backdoor entrance into childhood kept me awake. I longed to hold on to the day that I knew could not be repeated. Not one of them can.
I can still smell the clover, sweet and fresh. I lifted the flower to my noise over and over this day trying to recall if I remembered this fragrance.

But it smelled new to me. As so much of the day felt new. How had I forgotten the smell of clover or had I never recorded it in my youth.

Had I let my self grow so far away from the mystery and wonder of seeing the world as an Alice?

I asked my new friend who is five or so to see if she could find a four leaf clover. And then I waited for her return. Sweet excitement in her face, she brought back a hand filled with new discovery. That a four leaf clover can be a three leaf clover plus one borrowed leaf from another. That life can be viewed and seen in so many different ways. We limit ourselves as adults. I looked down at the three leaf clover plus the ripped piece from another, sacrificed to total four. Amazed by her creativity, I long to see the world with saucer-shaped eyes. To see it slant in all its mysteries.

At her invitation into child’s play, I entered into a game of hide and seek and found so much more than my friend hiding behind a tree trunk. I re-discovered play and release of the bondage of adult sensibilities, if just for a few minutes. Life is full through the eyes of a child. We watched dogs race and return a thrown ball to their human. And we found squirrels’ nests nestled in the bare tree limbs. And in these frozen moments on a cold spring day, I stared at a squirrel scratch an itch behind his ear. And helped my friend see two messy nests. Where have I been looking if not up. How have I missed so much.

And in throwing a baseball back and forth with her three year little brother, I observed meekness, gentleness, and forgiveness when the ball hit hard on her back. I learned in an afternoon in the park what I needed to tuck into my soul for a refresher course. I needed remediation on play.

I needed to count and run and watch a made up disco dance. And say good job. My soul was hungry for looking at art drawn in the sand with a stick. My soul needed  to watch a paper plate soar as a frisbee on a windy day. My imagination lay dormant more than I knew. Until it was cracked open a bit at the hand of a wildly creative girl and her brother.

Discovery came through the eyes of a child, on a cold day, in a park in Charleston. When the world of an adult was frozen, thankfully in time. And a dormant imagination began to  wake up to the new world that waits all around.

I was Alice for a day because of  friendship and a playdate. One boy and one girl helped me see the world through the eyes of a child. And I am learning to live as a child again.

spencer gets a shot from the top

Joining Jen and Heather.

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Just Give Me All The Children’s Books

There is this line of Pooh that shows up time and time again.
You painted lines on your stairs
And left them there when that house sold.
Poetry on the stairs and ragged Pooh propped there too.
Folded worn out bear.
A tribute on the stairs.
But you took Pooh with you, as you always did.

You gave her Pooh in Latin, the only
Octogenarian in the home with Latin Pooh bedside.
If I doubted before I knew for certain then
That this branded deep a generation, two or three
Around the prose of Milne.
You read it bedside night by night.
As children we were  lost in a friendship of a bear and boy.

We grew up in the hundred acre woods
And laughed at rotund bear and all his portly ponderings.
Each character mirrors men or women in our world.
You don’t look far before you see the Eeyore’s in your life.
And know those wearing their insecurities as Piglet did,
Poor pig and all his anxiety. Its not so funny after all.

You could write a book of all the metaphors of Pooh and you.
Him and you as child, adult
You and he and a language learned from Milne.
What would you do without your Pooh and maybe even visa versa.
Its as if he knows you too, the friendship runs so deep.

He must have felt your eyes, your hands, your heart
And all the love you dripped on pages in the dark.
And under cover, pages worn down and worn out from love of word.
What if there were no children’s books, after all they speak to all.
What if the books written for the young are really for the grown.

If I could choose I might pick a  pile of the treasures
Of my youth
To hide away and steal away, to bury in the corners of my heart,
While buried under quilt. To read of Charlotte, Wilbur and that
Giving tree, so generous and bare.
And even Dick and Jane, so plain so simple
So austere, life was simpler then.
Life was spelled out so plainly on a page.
There was Dick and there was Jane and that
Is really about all there ever was in 1960
Something, the books of my youth.

But Pooh was front and center in the home
As if he were crowned king.
And were it not for him I may not understand
The deep depression of a soul like Eeyore who
Sees the world, glass half empty every time
Always, never full.
And sweet momma Kanga, her precious mother’s
Heart, so nurturing and loving, so gentle in her ways.
Lost in the woods with Owl and the rest
Learning of life through a boy and his toys.
Of people in a world to come.

Just give me all the children’s books,
And let me read in peace.
Aren’t we all God’s children, after all.
We long to run and play and dream of animals that talk.
And get lost in the woods.
To read of talking spiders whose best friend is a pig.
To bend down low like Alice and talk to cats and hatters.
Why would we ever want to grow old and boring
When bears and honey and owls and donkeys make such wonderful
Companions, for the child in us, the playmates of our youth.

Its cold outside and I am curled up
I feel your warm breath on my neck,
Your smiles, your cadence, reading Pooh aloud.
And of all the places he has been within your life,
Woven through your days
He’ll also earn a place in church one day, far away,
As we say words, holy.
A proper ending to this line that runs throughout your life.
We know you well, we’ll pick the parts of portly Pooh
To read amid the sacred.

And Pooh will live another generation
Along with all the rest.
The children’s books that you loved
Will be loved for days and days to come.
You planted deep a love for Pooh
We honor you with the words of Milne
Every time they are read.
How did he know the smallest things take up
So much room, inside a heart, open wide for love,
A love for bear and books and more
And dear Mother, for you too.

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your hear.

A.A. Milne