Why I Want To Be A Big Kid (And You Do Too)
I know. My psychotherapist would have a field day with this one. He'd call it a reversion of my ego. Fortunately, It's been a while since I've gone to one. Unfortunately, my wife is one and she might read this...
But I must tell you why! How else could I convince you to follow suit and decide to be a big kid yourself?
There's being nuts about something and then there's being nuts.
For example, you could stalk a beautiful celebrity type. You could grow a mustache or wear a wig and follow them around placing notes behind their windshield wipers and leaving creepy lipstick messages on bathroom mirrors. That's nuts. Don't do that.
Don't be nuts. Be obsessed. Let me explain.
My son is 3 and could easily earn a PhD in All Things Sodor (Thomas the Tank Engine Island, not to be confused with Mordor, the land from which the dark Lord of the Rings Sauron sends legions of Nazgûl led orcs to cover the Middle Earth with shadow). It's because he's been obsessed with trains for like 2 years. He knows their names, numbers, and colors, but he doesn't just play with them.
Adam creates stories, because in the land of make believe, anything is possible. There's what he calls trouble on the tracks. He uses his big crane truck to clear the mess. There are frequent fires. But Flynn always swoops in shooting his water cannons to save the day. Those are the only guns he knows, but the rescue missions are nothing less than heroic.
He's always asking my wife and I to participate in building of structures and role playing, but make no mistake, he is the producer, director, and the star of the show. He's the engineer and the mechanic. Often the creator, sometimes the destroyer, always the smooth operator. We build new tracks, bridges, tunnels, and buildings. He tears them down. When he rebuilds, he always invents something new.
Adam loves books. We have a lot of Thomas and Friends books. We've read them all to him multiple times. Sometimes in one sitting. We even found a set of 10 books with a digital reader so he can press buttons that correspond to pages and listen to the stories as he's flipping between pictures.
And then there's videos... Kasia and I limit him to 3 episodes a day. He watches Paw Patrol too, but train videos have been a staple for over a year. We YouTube. He must have seen them all, but I'm sure he finds new things watching the same video for the nth time.
At night, the bedtime stories my wife and I tell must involve trains. Song lyrics have been changed to include Henry (his favorite), Gordon, James, Thomas, Hiro, Spencer and company.
That, my friends, is commitment. Adam doesn't just skim the surface. He's all in all the time.
Going All In
My son, like all children when they're little, does not measure how much effort he's going to put into something. He is not corrupted by concepts such as acceptable risk. When children get excited about something, they go all in. They become obsessed and put all their might into the project; its process and its product.
Unfortunately, we lose this power as we get older. We unlearn it. We become more reasonable. More measured. More adult.
We can blame many things; parents, friends, media, school, church, the shopping mall, but it doesn't matter. The point is to allow ourselves to rediscover this lost part of us. To be a big kid. Passionate to the point of obsession, if only for short stretches at a time.
I look at my students and most fear to take risks. The society they live in has taught them it's better to be average. Risk little, lose little. Stick your nose out and it might hurt, so just avoid...
But this is something we need to relearn as adults to be game changers. To stand out, passion alone is no longer enough. We must be obsessed to become a leader, an ass kicker in our discipline. It requires dreaming, immersing ourselves completely in the experience, and doing things we love and fear to achieve the desired result. We must go all in.
We must model and help our students relearn this childish enthusiasm. Help them be obsessed once again. They must come to accept there will be times that will require risking it all. We must tell them they won't always succeed and it will hurt. But it's key we tell them to be excited, to try and sometimes fail, and to reflect and do it better the second and the third time.
Because it's important they know that in the end we always regret not the things we did, but the things we lacked the courage to do.
So be a big kid. Go all in. It's the only way to live.
Pass the message on.
You have the power to change the world. Use it often.