I used to look at people who became their goofiest when they played with children with an embarrassed side-glance. I’d feel the need to feel uncomfortable for them, that they were doing such silly things in front of a bunch of adults.
Like, “You realize we can see you too, right?”
But in reality, it’s not like I thought any less of them. I understood that they were just doing things like making silly faces and pretending to trip on imaginary banana peels to entertain the kids. It didn’t make them any less of an adult in my eyes, so I don’t really know why I found it so embarrassing to watch them do their thing.
I think maybe I was insecure in my own adulthood at the time and so I felt like I had to overcompensate by not acting silly at any time, even if it was just for kids; in order to prove the sternness of my adult status. Now, I’ve embraced the truth that all adults are just really big kids anyway, so what’s the use in stifling your inner child? It’s just that now we’re big kids who pay taxes, and feel obligated to pretend we know what we’re doing. But the huge secret is, we still don’t know what we’re doing. Each stage of life brings new challenges that make us feel as awkward as a kindergartner, fumbling to scratch led marks between the lines we’re told to adhere to.
I find myself doing all sorts of crazy stuff these days to make my students laugh or keep them engaged. I’m not embarrassed in the least. Not even in front of other adults.
I don’t understand why we keep this lack of know-how a secret for children to find out when they’re adults. It’s not like they’d look down on us or feel less safe in our hands. I find they usually appreciate the honesty, to whatever extent you give it to them. Why don’t we do them a favor and save them some insecurity & uncertainty later by fessing up?
I feel like a shadow of this truth is shown when we do things like make silly faces at small children, but I think the adolescents could use our help too.
Tell a young adult “I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’m still breathing so I guess I’m doing something right,” today.