Playground Perspective: Maintaining an Energetic Beat

I'm not an emotionally expressive guy. Which explains how I found myself parenting an exceptionally expressive daughter with Nikole; they both exist in my life to teach me important things.

Thea combines the frenetic energy rattling through my brain with her mother's deep empathy and creative bent -- and then marches steadily to her own beat. Usually not in the direction I'd like her to march.

She&# 39;s also relentlessly curious.

It would be maddening if she weren't such a happy kid. Okay, sometimes it's still pretty maddening. Mostly, it's sort of wonderful. 

I delight in watching her burst into her own day after day:

  • She might have had the BEST DAY EVER at the Virginia State Fair this past weekend, and she didn't even have any fried food! (Seriously, do you know how happy we were to discover the King of Pops selling his natural popsicles near the tractors? Very happy.) Watching your child explode with delight as she swirls around in a spinning teacup ride can't be beat.
  • But you really haven't lived until your four-year-old dances around the house singing Cyndi Lauper songs. (Thea singing, "Oh, daddy dear, you know you're still number one, but girls they want to have fun..." has an entirely different energy than the original version of that song.)
  • Did I mention her curiosity? Thea and I sat on the couch the other morning for 20 minutes talking about chimpanzees and watching Jane Goodall videos. She explained where trees came from on an evening walk with me last week. That was after she explained transportation to me...

None of this is new to some of you, but I find I'm constantly amazed by the restorative energy of children, and by the unique energy of my own child.

There was a version of me that wondered where that energy went as we aged, only to discover that much of it goes into protecting ourselves from others.

When I let go of the need for control, for protection, that's when I find myself leaning into a conversation of curiosity, inspired by possibilities for change and disruption, mesmerized by someone else's story. It is hard -- HARD -- to do. I count myself fortunate that I have created a job that allows me to be so open to others.

I can climb onto the teacup ride, dance around the kitchen and explore the world of Jane Goodall almost every day in the work that I do. I enjoy this version of myself much more -- it reminds me, when I glimpse it in the mirror, of a small child I know sleeping just down the hallway.