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The Kid Rx
I have to agree with a Limb reader who wrote to me recently to declare that a fairly reliable source of joy is quality time he spends with young kids. You may nod in agreement with this proposed prescription for joyous moments, especially if you know a kid who can be exuberant or outspoken at times. Sometimes, it is the brainy ones who rattle off some intelligent bit of wisdom that you did not acquire until you were in your twenties or thirties! Sometimes, it is the rambunctious ones who insist on a little bit of wildness in their activity. And sometimes it is the silly, goofy ones who do not even realize how entertaining they are. As I write these sentences, I am recalling precious moments shared with numerous nieces and nephews, from their infancy into college days. Kids make me laugh, and grin. They get me to make things up, on the spot, to entertain them. They get me to summon my inner goofball (which is quite abundant), and leave behind my more serious self (also quite abundant). The abovementioned Limb reader commented that it is the unfiltered presence in a child that is so utterly refreshing. What they see is what we get. By comparison, this reader wrote: “adults have a twisted desire to contain, and ultimately squelch that joy, with a toxic blend of don’ts and shouldn’ts.” (See Shoulds are a Killjoy, December 2010 issue of Out on a Limb, for more.)
It is quite a challenge to find the right balance between cautious containment and the other extreme of exuberant expression. With all due respect for the need to be appropriate, especially where management of a public persona is involved, I am rooting for all of humanity to err in the direction of less suppression, and more spirited presence. May the kids in your life be a source of inspiration, energy, and even a touch of foolishness. Do not be surprised if you find yourself feeling younger when you are around them!
“Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music.” ~ William Stafford
No doubt there are parents of young kids amongst the Limb’s readers. To you, I want to acknowledge that it is not all fun, games and laughter to raise a child. I bet you feel little joy when you try to get your little one to clean up a mess, do homework, stop picking on a sibling, or spend an hour away from a beloved electronic device. Still, there are light-hearted moments that neutralize those tough ones, right? I hope so! You may find it is easier to derive joy through interaction with a youngster whom you do not have to discipline; this is the joy that grandparents, aunts, uncles, and godparents celebrate often.
If your contact with those under the age of 18 is minimal, where could you gain access, even if only as an observer, to kids and their antics? Here is an incomplete list of places where I have had fun interactions with kids: at the YMCA, standing in lines, at baseball games, at the beach, on trains and planes, and in stores, especially those that sell ice cream. The fun multiplies if you actually have a conversation, but it can be quite amusing just to engage in active eavesdropping! Teachers may be underpaid and underappreciated but they get to witness many joyful moments, too. If you know any teachers, just ask them to share a funny kid quote or anecdote. Their stories or quotes are priceless.
Your October 2014 Prompts for Joy
Click here to see yours truly acting goofy with a beloved goddaughter. (This one proves that I do not just write these words but I also live them.)
Bear in mind that all previous Prompts for Joy (PFJs) can be found at my website, unless the video url is no longer functional. If you are a new subscriber, you may want to find out what the heck Prompts for Joy are. Some of the best of the best PFJs involve children. Here is one from my Top 10 list:
Click here for a quick lesson on gratitude, and a kid who loves, among other things, her home!
(Originally, a PFJ for June 2010 issue of Out on a Limb.)
Joy-Gram for October 2014
Search through your bank of memories for a fabulous time spent with a child. Are you grinning, yet? Why not pledge to create more memories like this?
This photo helps me remember that we were all kids, first. Photo by Geoffrey Clark.
By no means
do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume
that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for
myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this
pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience
of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!
Martha Clark Scala, MFT · 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 ·