In order to make anything a reality, you have to dream about it first.
Sometimes being an adult can be really boring. Dishes, laundry, helping other people do their homework, getting things together for my teaching job the next morning… if I let myself get caught up in a rut with the mundane, it’s easy to fall into a depression. Reality becomes overwhelming. My guess is that many of you face the same struggle.
Winter always seems to put everyone in this funk. We go days in a row having to spend time outside of our normal reality while we’re trapped indoors from snow and ice. And I don’t know about you, but if I don’t put some effort into not melting under several blankets into a dysfunctional pile on my couch, that’s exactly where I’ll land.
Not so for my kids, though. I see restriction; they see possibility. I see hours trapped within walls; they see unlimited time to play games and imagine. They invent, they dream, and they create. And if I’m not careful, I stifle them. It’s hard not to be that parent who sees only the mess and disorder instead of the world’s most awesome couch fort. Life is so much better when you get on your knees and crawl into the fort with your kids.
During my last snow day stint, I came across this TED talk from Adora Svitak, child prodigy. Her platform is basically this: adults need to listen to and learn from children. Simple, right? We’ve been talking about this in education for years. More input from students on classroom rules and procedures. Give them more choice and more opportunity for generating questions and ideas. But, as Svitak points out, we adults have a lot of trouble with this because of a little issue of trust.
I think the problem is that I want my reality to be… well, my reality. This is what’s comfortable to me. It’s what feels normal. And if you throw me off my reality, you’re going to find someone who barely functions. But what kind of reality is that? An assembly line life where everything just falls into place? Thing is, it never works out that way. If I’m honest with myself, I really don’t want that. I want to see opportunity and possibility, and sieze those moments.
Svitak says this:
Maybe you’ve had grand plans before but stopped yourself, thinking, “That’s impossible,” or, “That costs too much,” or, “That won’t benefit me.” For better or worse, we kids aren’t hampered as much when it comes to thinking about reasons why not to do things. Kids can be full of inspiring aspirations and hopeful thinking.
Read all the Facebook statuses and Twitter posts on one of these big “Snowmageddon” days. Or maybe, don’t. Because let’s face it, there’s a lot of us adults out there gritting our teeth and bemoaning our charmed lives. I’m as guilty as anyone. Not ANOTHER snow day, right?
It’s humbling to have that thought refuted by a sweet little six year old rushing to hug you when you tell her you have another day to stay home and cuddle with her.
Thing is, kids tend to see the glass half full. They figure out ways to laugh and play, even in the direst of situations.
So I submit that when we’re having those bottom-of-the-barrel days, we need to redefine our reality from a kid’s point of view. Kind of reminds me of Matthew 18:3:
Unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.