I remember that, as little girls, my sister and I would lay in the yard in front of the little blue house. We would blanket ourselves in the grass. Picking dandelions. Flipping them so the flower was below the stem. And then peeling them, like string cheese until they would form perfectly lovely curly q’s.
We would lay. Giggling. Singing songs. Gabbing. Without any real concept or need of time. Without anywhere to be. Except right in that exact spot.
It was simple. And yet now, sounds like perfection. To lay without realizing that the grass might feel itchy. Or the house might be messy. Or there are a million things that absolutely must get done in order for the earth to turn.
When do we lose the ability to get lost in that spot? Is it age 7, when 1st grade comes calling? Is it age 13, when hormones come calling?
When do we start getting busy? Is it age 6, when we have to become a soccer player if we are ever really going to be a soccer player? Is it age 15, when the schedule of high school kicks in?
When does the wonderment begin to fade? Is it age 9, when we start convincing ourselves that Santa is a really good story, along with all of his fellow figments? Is it age 12, when people start acting ugly, and saying hurtful things?
When do we stop peeling the dandelions?
I watch our boys. Daily, I see them play as if their lives depend on it. Being Master Builders of Legos. Defending the entire human race against the bad guys. Drawing their very own masterpieces by marker and crayon. Declaring the day as race day and prepping the entire day for the big event. Saving the batcave amidst hostile takeover. Singing their very own tune, dancing their very own moves. Taking care of under-the-weather stuffed animals. Baking, and cooking five-course spreads. Running in circles, with no agenda. Picking a bouquet of dandelions. And delivering them to me in the fanciest of vases available.
Imagination is their vehicle to wherever they want to go.
So when then? When does it dissipate? When do they let go of the belief that they can solve all the world’s problems in a day as long as their work is play? And when does the world start demanding more of them than that? How are we to equip them to be fully grown, capable versions of themselves while respecting their right to childhood?
I want to hold onto it. That thing. The wonderment. The innocence of it all. The play. Before the world can make them trade it in for obligations and expectations. I want to take it in my hand and then tuck it in my pocket. Safely hidden from those who want to steal the ease of that joy. I want them, at least for a little while, to continue to play as if their lives depend on it.
Especially on days like today. When the sun’s warmth permeates onto my face and right into that very spot deep in my soul. When the freshly-mowed grass allows a few of those little, yellow flowers to peek. And I can perfectly recall a time when things were as simple as could be.
I want them to lay in the grass. And peel back the stems of dandelions. And for that to be enough. For awhile.