Last night on the Family Feud, the survey question was “what age are kids the cutest” and the number one answer was two. But it got me to thinking, that’s not just when you’re the cutest as a kid, that’s it for life. That’s the peak for us all, men and women, and it’s all downhill from there.
One of my first jobs was teaching gymnastics, to kids 18 months and up, and I can attest to the validity of the Feud survey. That’s when kids are all smiles, all clean white teeth, and no matter what they do you can’t get mad at them once you look at them.
That’s because they’re pure joy, they’re pure life! Their eyes are as clear as a Disney cartoon, the color shining like a million pixels. They can wear absolutely anything and look absolutely adorable. All they want is to be tickled and play and hug. They want to explore, they want to learn, they want to talk to everyone. Even the “terrible twos” are just kids testing, engaging in, and challenging life. And when you want to scream at them you just can’t. Just let the tears well up and you are suddenly so aware of how petty and meaningless everything is.
And that’s it. From there they will really become kids and become adults. They’ll experience acne, growth that throws all the symmetry out of their bodies, lose teeth, their limbs won’t match. They’ll learn the anger and stress of the world from the adults around them and it will seep into their cells and replace their funny bones.
Never again will they want to be tickled, tell you to stop, then want you to start again. Never ever again will they cry with the intensity of an atomic explosion and then have no clue why in a few minutes time and once again be completely happy without carrying any of that momentary pain with them. They’ll get older and brittle and walk slower and slower.
But maybe not. Maybe we could learn to really let things go a minute after they happen, eat only what we need to go out and play some more, wake up every day wanting to live, really live. And maybe we can learn to love the poop in our pants and in our life, and enjoy squishing around in it.