I thought I was in touch with my inner child. Sometimes, it seems as though my wife is downright eager to tell people how in touch with my inner child I am. In fact, it doesn’t always sound like praise.
But, life taught me a little something yesterday, after in the long, loud, and tear-filled period after the kids had been sent to bed, but before they were actually in bed. I’d thrown the my-word-is-law-I-say-get-in-bed tantrum that fathers everywhere are so good at (and, which I don’t think is necessarily something to be ashamed of) and was ready to throw an even bigger fit when child number two asked me to cuddle with her.
Why not? I thought, I hopped in bed.
Before I got in, she asked me to tell her a story.
My heart sank.
Normally, I love the chance to tell stories to my kids. But, I just wasn’t feeling creative. I was ready to use this cuddle as a break, not to actually think.
Fortunately for me, she named a few of her stuffed animals as characters, and even said the story should take place on a playground. I work best with restraints, and I got to work.
The story I told was of these two stuffed mice meeting for the first time. The first mouse was a stinker because she’d had a bad day in the daycare — that’s what I thought the story was about, dealing with jerks in daycare without being a stinker to people around you — and the second mouse had to explain to it that its behavior was not okay.
Turns out the second mouse was the star of the story. Because, in telling the story, I realized it was about dealing with grumpy people with grace. Exactly as I failed to do.
I don’t know if it was cathartic for my daughter to hear it and think “But that’s not what Papa” did. I do know it was cathartic for me to realize that I didn’t deal with the situation as well as I would like.
In retrospect, I wish I’d had a short conversation with her about it. (You know those ‘learning conversations’ that you hate as a teenager?) I didn’t, and it’s too late to go back. But it’s not too late to learn from it, and to grow.
In the perennial druidry course for the white waking moon, it says this under the heading of humanity and children.
As we look at new life in the environment around us, let us find it too within our community. At a time when children are too often stuck inside, find the child within yourself and explore these relationships, finding ways to play again, being conscious and respectful of a child’s ability to learn, to feel wonder, to discover new and amazing moments.
Whether you have children or know some, or are working simply with the child inside yourself, let go of some of that tired cynicism; use this moontide to find wonder at the art of play.
This moontide really is a good time for me to focus on ‘being conscious and respectful of a child’s ability to learn, to feel wonder, to discover new and amazing moments,’ not only because it seems that would be a continuation of the path I’m trying to chart with my relationship to the Earth.
Even more, though, it’s clearly a time when I can learn from my kids. And one of the things I seem to learn from them most often is what a hypocrtiete I am.