Magic through the eyes of a child

By JAMIE PATTERSON,

Last week was the first time I took all three of my children to the happiest place on Earth…Walt Disney World.

My mother and I have made the annual pilgrimage every year since I was two years old. But this year was the first time I took my kids James, Elsie and Jase all along for the first time together.

I was worried about having all three on my hands there. Anyone who has been there knows it is a magical place, but there are also challenges with long lines, huge crowds and days that don’t end until well into the night.

I was also worried about how each kid would experience the place.

James, at 11 years old, I feared would be in the “too cool for this” stage.

Elsie is at the age where she isn’t sure if the characters are real are not and is too afraid to ask.

And Jase, at four years old, was a dice shot. Would he be excited and happy or cranky and clingy?

But despite a few hiccups, the trip was perfect. James was still kid-enough to light up when we made our way down Splash Mountain. Elsie grinned from ear to ear as she danced with princesses. And Jase was ecstatic to see a real castle, visit with Mickey and even get a kiss from Snow White.

It was during the trip that I stood back and watched my children experience the same joy of the place as I did when I was a kid. And for the first time, I saw the magic.

But it didn’t come in the form of pixie dust. It was the magic of being a kid.

My kids were overcome with happiness to meet legends of the fables and fairy tales. They were elated to jump on a carousel together. They skipped along the pavement with a balloon and ice cream bar in hand. They jumped out of bed each morning excited about the new day. They loved hard, played hard and sometimes pouted hard.

But they were rays of sunshine, happy with a place and happy to be with family. It was as simple as that.

Kids don’t worry about tomorrow. They live right in that moment, soaking every ounce of it at once. They don’t care if the ice cream drips down their arms. They don’t care who sees them dancing. They don’t care who sees them crying either. It’s OK to jump in the air with excitement. It’s fine to just “be.”

I know it may have only been a week at Disney World. But it reminded me of the excitement and wonder that a child holds within themselves. And, maybe, for the first time, I really heard their laughter. They laugh so hard it hurts. And then they laugh again.

When we returned home, it was back to school and work. It was back to bills and frustrations. It was back to packed schedules and deadlines to meet. And yes, it was back to “time-outs” and punishment.

But something happened on that trip. I was reminded of the magic of being a kid, and we as adults need to absorb that magic we see in children. And we need to keep it alive in us as well. When we were young, we couldn’t wait to grow-up. Why? Being an adult isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I want to try to be a clown again, laugh loud and often. I want to be that little rebel who isn’t afraid to try something I am scared of. I want to be messy, not worry about the clean-up and enjoy the fun. I want to hug more, skip more and dive into each experience ready to have fun and learn something new.

I want my inner child back. There’s magic to it.

It’s funny how a vacation, three wild kids and a huge mouse named Mickey reminded me of that.

Free your inner child. Let it come out and play. The child we once were is still there. Besides, an adult is just a kid who grew up.

Just like Walt Disney said, “growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.”