Today, I was on the bus, on my way to the grocery store when a young mother and her baby got on the bus. They sat across the aisle, one row up from me. The little boy was beyond adorable; during the ride, he kept looking over at me and yelling loudly AHHHH every time I smiled or stuck my tongue out at him. I began playing peekaboo with him, hiding my face behind the sleeve of my jacket and popping up, and he just LOST IT. For about 15 minutes, we rode like this, me beyond tickled to play with the boy and he just seeing nothing but pure joy from something so simple as a stranger sticking her tongue out at him.
I immediately felt overjoyed myself, and just thought about how cool it is to be THAT naive as a child, where you think that every cardboard box or face can be a source of entertainment for you. When I got off the bus, I was still giddy and felt very light; it’s been a LONG while since I’ve felt that good.
After I finished grocery shopping, I sat out front of the store for a second, and a mother came out of the store pushing a cart. At the bottom of the cart was her son, his legs propped up to keep his heels from hitting the ground.
Again, I felt happy, but this time I also felt a pang in my belly for the good old days, the days where my grandparents and my great aunts and uncles were alive and I was a kid. Though I did have my share of bad times as I kid, overall, it was the BEST time to be alive.
On Sundays, after church, all my family would gather at my grandparents for pitty pat, poker , and dinner. I, along with my cousins, used to sit under the table and collect the quarters that fell to the floor.
On Saturdays, we used to play volleyball over my grandmother’s clothesline. We played red light, green light in the backyard. We played dodge ball in the road out front of the house. We played hide and go seek until way past dark. We played kickball and baseball using trees and rose bushes as the bases.
We were kids, and I missed that carefree, happy nature that we begin with as children, but slowly lose as we get older.
Despite the pangs of nostalgia and the loss of innocent youth, there is one thing from childhood that has remained intact, thank God, and that is my imagination. As a kid, I used to lay on the grass under an oak tree in my grandparents’ backyard and just think and make things up. My cousins and I used to play pretend and make up these elaborate stories to see if we could get each other to believe in them.
Today, I still play pretend, except now I do it on paper instead of orally. I guess, in a way, I am still a kid because I always have the ability to pretend that I am a kid and see what mischief I can get my “inner kid” into.