I watched Alec, Zoe, and my niece and three nephews chase each other. A cloud of beige dirt swirled around them as they frolicked. Some of the kids chose the swings while others explored the metal, abstract play structure.
The freedom and joy of their youth inspired me. Giggles, chatter, and squeals of delight formed wind chimes of childhood. After fifteen minutes, I stopped taking photos and decided to join my family.
A brisk breeze kissed my face. I leaned back, pumped my legs, and the sky seemed to wink at me. I felt like a young girl again. I’ve always loved to swing! The nostalgic reverie ceased when I felt slightly dizzy. My heart and mind are fueled with curiosity, passion, and zest for life. However, my physical body made its chronological age known!
But that did not stop my inner child from emerging. I saw my adorable, smiley niece zipping down the green, tunnel slide. “Aunt Dara! Stay at the bottom and watch me!” She exclaimed. I did and also took pictures as she politely requested.
Then I said, “Do you think I’ll fit or get stuck if I join you?” After a bit of encouragement, I climbed up the stairs. I cautiously peered into the narrow slide. I paused and wondered if this was a wise idea.
“Alec. Please come over here and check this out. Do you think I can fit?” My teenage son agreed with his 7-year-old cousin. I still wasn’t convinced. An image of me wedged in this cylindrical slide flashed in my mind. Can you imagine? I started to momentarily freak at the thought as I envisioned a caboose of kids pushing me through to the other end.
I remembered the carefree, exhilarating feeling as I swung back and forth just minutes earlier. I decided that I would not be immobilized. My desire to play won; that tight, squished space meant for little people would be a cocoon rather than a claustrophobic tunnel. Before I changed my mind, I plopped down and shoved myself forward.
As I literally saw light at the end of the tunnel, I spotted two familiar feet. I glanced up at my son, who was laughing behind his phone. He apparently videoed my rather ungraceful descent. We were both hysterical.
We all need a reminder to let go of what weighs us down. And connecting with our younger selves is a liberating, loving way to do so. This could be fear based on previous experiences or even anticipatory anxiety of the “what ifs.” It’s amazing how much I continue to learn from the younger souls in my life.
I can’t wait to swing or slide again soon. And next time, I plan on mastering the monkey bars. The playground provides opportunities for growth when we are young. If we choose to continue growing, exploration and expansion does not end when we are older. Life is a forever playground.