Last night at my library job, I got to witness the best thing ever. It was a quiet evening and our only customers in the Children’s department were two little girls and their mom. While Mom was working at one of the computers, the girls were listening to music on her cell phone. It didn’t take me long to figure out the tune. It was “Let It Go” from the Disney movie Frozen.
The girls, who had to be about 4 and 5 years old, began singing along at the tops of their lungs. They didn’t care who heard them. They sang for pure joy.
My first reaction as a sensible adult was to, of course, giggle and shake my head. “Kids.”
My second reaction was, “I’m so jealous.” Needless to say, I did not shush them.
If I broke out singing “Let It Go” in the middle of the library (or the street, or the subway, or my home- you get the picture), people would think I was nuts. At some point, society tells us to silence our inner child.
Now, of course, this sort of conditioning is appropriate in many ways. Children are not only prone to musical outbursts. They are also prone to tantrums, lying and picking their noses. I’m not suggesting we revert.
But wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could recapture some of that joy? We learn to stifle it so early. My sons are 15 and 13 now but they’ve been telling each other what to do since they escaped the womb. My youngest is still very young at heart. It’s not unusual for him to start dancing when we walk through the mall, much to the mortification of his elder brother.
“Stop it. You’re embarrassing me.”
We always have the same response. “Let him be. If he wants to dance, he can dance.” He’ll probably make someone smile when he spontaneously dabs (or whatever they’re calling the dance moves these days.)
At what point in a person’s life do we silence our inner children? Sometime during the teen years? While grafting at that stressful first job? Or does it happen sooner? I think, sometimes, it happens far too soon.
Hearing those girls singing at the library made me miss my singing days. It made me want to pipe up and join them in their toddler-style choreography. I think that’s why it’s so important for adults to have creative outlets. When we’re parenting or while we’re “adulting,” we often have to tone it down. We’re not always allowed to follow our impulses.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a safe place in which to express ourselves? It wouldn’t matter if our voices broke or we looked silly. I think that’s why I appreciate being able to write what I do. My books are often about fantasy. For me, that is my outlet. I get to dream and play like the child I used to be.
I need to let her out more often.