Prison or Playground?

We were walking by a cemetery the other day when my daughter asked if, ‘We could play in that playground.’

I am the proud father of twins who just turned 3 years old this week. And it amazes me how these two see the world. Every weed is a flower. Even the green weeds, that barely look like anything other than weeds, are ‘green flowers.’ Every trip to the supermarket rivals an imagined trip to Disneyland. And yes, every cemetery is a potential playground.

Kids are born with this sense of optimism. This sense of hope. With unbridled enthusiasm. These kids are itching to play…with anything and everything. They sing out loud because they love to sing. Never minding that any offspring of mine are saddled with a very limited vocal range. They make friends with other 3 year old kids, who they just met, and have the time of their lives.

Their main goal in life…is fun. Actually, it’s their only goal.

How does a three year old seem to know more about what’s important in life than most of us? I know life is more complicated than that…but is it?

And don’t tell me kids don’t have consequences. We’re actually teaching my kids about consequences right now. These kids are living proof that you can have them and not be able to do exactly what you want to do, and still have fun. Because when we take away their dress-up clothes or their tool box, which is catastrophic for them, 5 minutes later they find something else to play with that’s equally as entertaining.

What happens to us when we grow up that takes away our spirit? That tints our goggles?

I know we all go through bad experiences in this world, death and disappointment and worse. But why does that dampen our elation when we get a present? When we eat cake? When we get a twisted balloon in the shape of a non-descript animal?

I know you may not like those things, but what is your balloon animal? What is that thing that gets you so excited? Is there anything out there?

I am thinking about letting my kids go into the next cemetery we pass, just to run around and play. It’s funny, because I’m sure those people buried 6 feet underground, if they are watching at all, would appreciate hearing the happy feet of a little girl who would never walk, but run from headstone to headstone. They would appreciate the nervous, excited laughter from my son after he yells out, ‘Chase me!’ Their hearts would warm in the cold ground when my kids held hands. Or hugged. Or told each other they loved one another.

My kids would stomp on all their old bones, and the dead would love it. I am sure of that. It’s the jaded, angry, and disappointed people walking around up here, alive, who would sneer, yell, and call me disrespectful for letting my kids play there. Think about how backwards that is.

Do not let life take away your joy. Your fun. Your smile. Your laugh. Don’t take it away from kids. And definitely don’t steal it from the adult that still has it.

No matter how you feel today, this yearning for fun is there. You were born with it. It’s about choosing to go back to that state of mind. To find that child inside of you. This world can be your prison or your playground. You can be miserable at the best party of all time or have fun in a cardboard box. Choose the box. Or choose to have fun at the party.

In not too long, you will be in the ground with the others, wishing my kids would come and play near you. So while you’re up here breathing, make sure to play at every cemetery you see.