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The Times
  • Suzette Martinez Standring: Kids: A spit shine on my soul

  •  The inner child is a concept about reviving the most genuine part of one’s self, a source of wonder, adventure, and joy from within. Many of us lose that as we get older and are re-programmed with “maturity.” Typically, that means a sense of reservation, holding back, or embarrassment. A ...
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    The inner child is a concept about reviving the most genuine part of one’s self, a source of wonder, adventure, and joy from within. Many of us lose that as we get older and are re-programmed with “maturity.” Typically, that means a sense of reservation, holding back, or embarrassment. A child singing reminds me of how far afield I’ve wandered from spontaneity.
    Recently, my 4-year-old granddaughter ordered me to sit down. 
     “I’m going to sing three songs for you,” said Lulu.
     “Oh! Let me get my camera!” I replied.
    Lulu grandly introduced herself, and with big-time gusto, she launched into the “Telephone” song by Lady Gaga. My camera wobbled as I tried to stifle giggles when she belted out the line, “I don’t wanna talk anymore! I left my head and my heart on the dance floor!” There she was, rocking out and wearing a shirt with a bunny face.
    History repeats itself. Lulu’s mom (my daughter) was about 3 years old when she knew the lyrics from “I’m Just A Love Machine” by The Miracles. I’d laugh whenever Star would sing, “I’m just a love machine, and I won’t work for nobody but you!”  About 1977 was her last live concert. Now Star is a 38-year-old grammar school teacher.
    Lulu learned a kiddie version of the Lady Gaga song from watching “Kidzbop.” Now she was on camera, moving and grooving with abandon. I marveled at how unself-conscious she was. How long did she have before “what others think” would take center stage?  In the blink of an eye, growing up would put a stop to Lulu’s sudden songs.
    But then, how about me?  It’s been ages since I’ve gone dancing, or acted goofy with friends, or laughed so hard the tears were streaming down my face. Please don’t ever ask me to sing.  Have I lost my own childlike ability “to play?”
    It reminded me of the old Bible story where children ran up to Jesus and his apostles tried to shoo them away so he wouldn’t be bothered.  Luke 18:16 reads, “But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’”
     “Such as these” – I suddenly realized that the passage is not just about actual children.  God is talking about the child within; that part of us that is trusting, running forward with open arms and a joyful heart. Such a “child” can be two or 102.
    Raising children (or borrowing them) serves the vital purpose of reminding us of our true natures. Adults get so wound up with obligations and goals, we forget how to belt out a chorus or two from the Top 40.  Learning from children is a spit shine on the soul.
    Page 2 of 2 - Lulu’s “concert” ended with much applause. Then she said, “Now it’s your turn, Lola!” (That’s Filipino for “grandmother”).  Calling on the spirit of the late Freddie Mercury, I rocked a few bars from “Somebody to Love” by Queen, and danced Lulu around the room. In my arms, the little girl’s laugh was wild and very loud. At that moment, ours was the kingdom of heaven.
    Email Suzette Standring at suzmar@comcast.net or visit www.readsuzette.com
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