The other day a friend of mine came over, and she brought her 4-year-old daughter with her. My friend and I journeyed upstairs to cull through my DD’s clothes that no longer fit, while the children, 4, 5, and 7, played downstairs and my husband patrolled the kitchen.
My friend and I enjoyed ourselves. We giggled and guffawed as we sorted through clothes. We had the pleasure of each other’s company, and we both benefitted from the clothing exchange. Every now and then a child would creep up the stairs to see what we were doing. My DH even came up a few times delivering hot cookies, fresh from the oven.
The real fun began, however, when we went back downstairs.
My 7-year-old girl had brought out her make up case to share with her 4-year-old guinea pig, I mean, friend. Let’s just say both girls were colorful and sparkly. Very sparkly. Somehow my 5-year-old boy was spared the glitterfication. He was, however, tattooed, as were the girls. And leis. Let me not forget the leis. Each child had on at least two leis, artfully festooned around their necks and heads. Despite the free-flowing body glitter, the tropical floral arrangements, and the decorated backs of hands thrust in my face as I entered the living room, shininess, flowers, and ink were not what I first noticed when I got downstairs.
I didn’t really notice a lot of things. I mindlessly bypassed the assortment of bouncy balls littering the floor and perilously resting at the bottom of the staircase. I barely noticed the collection of beads I trampled underfoot. The stencils, colored pencils, and paper spread out on the floor were only a colorful layer of carpeting, to my mind.
What I first noticed when I stepped in the living room was the chain of scarves and jump ropes tied on one end to a dining room chair, spanning the entire living room, and affixed on the other end to the table-top air hockey game that was stuffed in a box. Where the chain was high, the 4 and 5-year-olds were limboing, and where the chain was low, the 7-year-old was attempting to walk a tightrope.
I laughed as I walked in. How could I not? Then I began singing, “Every limbo boy and girl, all around the limbo world….” As I completed my turn under the limbo chain, I noticed my friend standing in the corner, dumbfounded, staring at the commotion. Only a brief moment passed before she joined in the festivities, but I realized a lot in that moment.
It struck me that our children had never played together at my house before; we always met somewhere or went to my friend’s house for play time. Although my friend and I have been close since before either of us had children, she had never really seen my children in their element before. I think that was part of her surprise.
Her daughter is my friend’s only child. I think seeing, firsthand, the possibilities of imagination that occur when children have each other as their muses surprised her, too.
I think, perhaps, what struck my friend most of all was seeing her girl enjoying herself in the midst of the madness.
I discovered something else in that moment, as well. I realized that my children feel free to create and play and dare and try and sing and laugh and dance and build and construct and accessorize and imagine. I learned that my children are resilient, because despite the world’s best effort to cheat my children out of childhood, my kids have refused to succumb to the inducements of growing up too fast. Good for them.
Tomorrow that may all change, but I am enjoying it while it lasts.