I have had a better childhood than most people's; we were never "poor" (we were never in poverty), I had the privilege to have my early years in a "private" school (Steiner education is alternative education so it is privately funded, but it is certainly no Eaton) and I had the invaluable benefit of my grandad, an expert with paediatric osteopathy, to provide osteopathic treatments. I do believe I took some of this for granted growing up, but it wasn't as fantastical as you might think.
Although my school had a holistic approach to teaching, and lessons were based around art, crafting, gardening and performance; there was a strange forcibleness to every activity. For example, "eurythmy" was a form of expressive dance, which was anything but "expressive" and the choreography involved balancing large copper rods upon one's head or making strange shapes with one's limbs to express sentences or phrases. I could not for whatever reason (perhaps due to the fact I was literally 5 years old?) balance these rods on my head and every time they would fall off I would get told off for being "useless" at balance. I am pretty useless at balance but now I don't see that as weakness, I just avoid activities with balancing anything, because I can! I also forgot my plimsolls one time so I thought I couldn't practice, but our class teacher (bless Mrs. Evans - she really was the greatest, and this wasn't her fault) didn't notice that this meant I hadn't put any shoes on, and told me to come along anyway. There I went, shoeless, through the rain across to the dreaded dance building, where the other teacher was not so forgiving.
"Why did you come in without shoes, you stupid child?" she scoffed and cackled. Everyone in the room turned to stare at my soaking socks and trailing marks of wet footprints.
I just wanted to run back to our main class room and hide. She made me dance with her horrible rods anyway, and instead of balancing them I tried to prod them into my head to stay put instead. Needless to say, all it did was give me a sore head.
I didn't like the food they would serve at that school either. Come to think of it I've never enjoyed school food, but that place was particularly awful because every Friday it was compulsory to eat a shared meal with everyone else in your year - which was a lovely experience in itself, but the "meal" would never be enjoyable and there would always be "turns" to do everyone's washing up. Like I say, the principle of a shared meal and communal effort in itself is wonderful, and I only wish they could have applied this properly. To make this truly "communal" would have been to offer the children a say in what they eat, as well as given a say in who wants to clean afterwards - otherwise it is clearly an established leader delegating responsibility based on numbers alone, with no consideration for their group's state of minds, taste choices, or physical illness... even as a child I did not agree with this system. And so I pretended to be ill every Friday lunchtime so I could be sent to the First Aid room, where my mother conveniently worked at the time, and we would sneak in a packed lunch...
I could go on about the craziness of Steiner education; like the fact chocolate is banned so I had to sneak in that as well (???), talk of television or movies was taboo, it was non-uniform but all logos and extremist clothing were banned... but I don't want to tarnish that part of my life like that, because it was so brilliant in so many other ways - we learned to sew, stitch, bake, craft with wood and leaves, paint, care for animals and the earth... I have so many beautiful creations from my early years still stored somewhere which have really nice memories attached. I made my first ever "best friend" at Steiner school, and the other friends I had there were amazing and have grown into really great people.
In terms of my home life, I don't really want to get into that right now. Some things are better left said in private. I suppose I can say it was full of anger and negativity and we can leave it at that. When I had to leave Steiner education and join a state school, things became very different, very quickly, and I don't think I was prepared for the change at such a young age, especially with a completely different community of people.
I've talked about my experiences with being bullied before many times, and I have been living for more years now as an adult than I have in my school years, so I can safely say I really don't give two f***s about you lot anymore! But as the old saying goes: "the axe forgets, but the tree remembers" - the despicable acts which you undid upon me will continue to remain in my scope of memory, and sadly I doubt they will exist in yours. It's ok, Calum L, I forgive you for spitting on me and calling me an "ugly Jew" every day, but it's never too late to say sorry...
Not only does time truly heal, but using your time to start a different life can work wonders for your soul. I had begged my parents to take me out of that dreaded "Suckville" School for years before I finally applied in secret (hmm, this sneakiness seems to be a running theme in my childhood, don't ya think?) for a vocational college that was out of town. I took the long bus ride out for my interview, and was given a place on the spot - I was elated!
For 2 spectacular years of my life I took the same bus ride to Haywards Heath and back. Four months of this were spent with my first car, but sadly Eddie totalled it on a country lane - but the Grim Reaper didn't want me that day! - and for the last few months I rode as a passenger with my friends. I was actually happy here. If I could go back in time and "redo" my life, I don't think I would change anything, I'd just want to relive those 2 years instead.
Well we have reached the part of our story where we need to make something of the title. How does one "reconnect" with their inner child? What exactly is an "inner child"? Some people like to think of this as their connection with their past selves, drawing themselves to their youth, where there are memories of fondness and innocence. Others have not experienced such caring or kind childhoods, so it might feel unnerving or even terrifying to try to connect with their past in this way. For this reason I try to think of connecting with my inner child as a form of spirit rather than my past "self" - instead of this child-like creature being the literal child version of me, it is a feeling, or experience, of the childish spirit that roams amongst us all.
I have been told by many people that I am "childish" in a negative sense, and I have been spoken down to by many people as if I were a child to them. But who is right - the "child" simply existing as they are, or the "adult" trying to gain leverage and power over them with their behaviour? A "child" always outsmarts an "adult" anyway, so if my "childish" antics offended you then don't even bother with the fight ;-)
Deep in our heart, we are all still children. Adult life can be really depressing, miserable, and bleak. The Child naturally experiences life through the rainbow lenses, everything is exciting, interesting, wonderous! The Child likes to play, laugh and cry, run through the mud and make dens out of sticks. There are no problems for the Child, for when the world seems so colourful, there can only be magical solutions for everything! It is not just a case of "mummy and daddy will fix it", it is that the Child is quick and nimble, creative and clever, recognising what is truly right from wrong and doing the right thing even if they are the only one doing it. The Child has SO MUCH ENERGY! They are loud, curious, wild and free! Wouldn't life be so great if we all embraced our inner Child?
This time of year has become especially bleak since the pandemic, but most of my winters have never really been enjoyable, so I am definitely feeling as depleted as our weather right now. The snow has left me feeling a bit "frosty" and cold towards contact with others, and the dreary clouds are fogging up my brain; I probably have a great case for SAD but as per my previous post regarding healthcare, I don't think I will be approaching anyone for a prescription for this anytime soon. Instead, connecting with my inner Child is helping me get through this hibernation season, and I have devised 20 simple ways for you to also incorporate your Child spirit, too...
Dance to your favourite music! Simplicity amongst the madness - just press play on whatever album or song you're loving right now and get up and move to the beat! It really doesn't matter if you "can't" dance or your rhythm is off, when you really feel music, your body becomes of no importance and all there is to enjoy is the moment.
Watch Memes, Fail videos or just something really stupid These videos and clips are abundant on the internet and laughter truly is the best medicine. Watching strangers suffer in silly or relatable ways helps give us a distraction to the mundane and a bit of childish humour never hurt anyone.
Play in the mud! Is it raining outside? Great! Go find your nearest grassy field and wear your ex's t-shirt then throw yourself in the mud! If we so choose to be like little piglets and roll around in the dirt, then why not? (Don't return the shirt!)
Make an "Abstract" Painting Do you proudly display your toddler's messes upon your fridges? Or if like me you are childless, maybe you remember getting messy yourself with finger painting and paper mache. There is no reason you can't enjoy playing with paint as an adult also! All you need are some basic acrylic paints and some form of canvas - I like to literally throw the paint around and then blend it together in weird and wonderful shapes using cheap palette knives. Even if the result is a horror show of colour, at least you had fun doing it!
Watch a live performance This is the adult version of storytelling - be part of an audience and let yourself relax and escape in a fictional story, you could try a theatre or comedy show, musical, poetry slam, circus, opera, concert... there are so many choices available, don't "kid" yourself into thinking you "don't like" the arts!
Make gifts for the fairies! Oh they're there in your garden alright - they can be little tricksters sometimes but they are mostly good. The gift of the Child is the ability to make-believe and use one's imagination, because you can! So offer your fairies some sweet treats, and maybe they will offer you a favour in return - I heard they particularly like a sprinkling of old flower petals!
Turn off your "News" The Child doesn't care about the so-called "news" (i.e. life sucks - what's "new"?) and neither should you. All media is designed to stimulate your emotional response and targets your hidden triggers with sensationalist headlines and catchy buzzwords. Quite simply, they want you to react negatively, because it means you want to click on their articles more! So go ahead and turn off your notifications for all news stories, don't click on the channel at 6 o'clock, and make a beeline for the fresh produce so you can avoid the papers. "Unfollow" people who consistently share news, reset your ad preferences on social media, and switch to a CD or AUX connection when you drive. Ahhhh - yeah, news is everywhere and almost unavoidable, but with a bit of effort you can rid yourself of caring about it.
Do something "naughty" No, this is not your excuse to go and torture someone you psycho, this is your call to misbehave in a harmless way - what is that one thing that you were never allowed to have or do as a child that should have been ok? Maybe you were allowed everything, but found humour in knocking on a stranger's door and running away, or throwing a cake at your sister as a prank? Maybe you'd like to stick your fingers up to "the system" and smoke a joint? (Give over Tories, its only a plant)
Make something to share with your closest friend Oh, to be a young girl braiding friendship bracelets again! Make something special for whoever is closest to you in your life which you can share between you - maybe it is a necklace with pendants that join together, earrings with your initials, promise rings, mojo bags, crystals or a simple letter to be treasured... Gifting a piece of your heart to someone else is the essence of the Child's spirit.
Chase a dog! If you have a dog, great starting point. If not, try offering your time to walk a friend or neighbour's dog instead. Or better yet, offer your time to volunteer at a local shelter! Wherever you acquire your dog from, take it for a walk to an open area where you can set it free from its leash and let it tire you out. You might think you have the thighs to outrun a shar peí across a field, but believe me - you don't! (Make sure you have the patience and willpower to allow your dog to return)
Let out your farts and burps! Oh no - did my bodily noises upset you? Too bad! "Better out than in" as Shrek would say. Maybe Dreamworks were on to something with their message here - embracing your Child is to be free-spirited, and not worry about the trivial things in life. Besides, straining that fart in is only going to hurt your stomach later, so f*** it - let it out!
Speak your mind! Children are curious, they are not afraid to ask the questions that come to their minds. They lack the self-awareness to contain their intrusive thoughts, which can often lead to quarrels, so "speaking your mind" doesn't mean to literally say whatever you want. Speaking your mind with tact, is not only using your childlike ability to be free, but also your childlike ability to be clever, and gives you growth as an adult. Hiding what you really believe will only lead to poor coping mechanisms in conflict!
BE Petty! If you are petty, welcome to reality. If you think you aren't petty, you are disillusioned. Admit it - you would love to see your boss's shiny new car get splattered on by seagulls. Sometimes it's funny when your spouse has deep-cleaned the kitchen and you go to put a dirty bowl on the counter. Seeing people get angry in public and then escorted away is satisfying - the Child likes to play and cause chaos for good.
"Baby Talk" Make this an intimate and personal thing for you and your partner, or your pet (or both!). It doesn't have to be literally a made-up language, just your "weird" little way of talking to each other when you feel like it. The Child loves to experiment with different ways of speaking and forming words, it is all fun and interesting when you don't know what everything means yet! Who or what can my voice imitate today?
Play an "Easy" Instrument Something like a harmonica, bongo drum, didgeridoo, panpipes or even a tambourine are all great instruments to enjoy creating sound without requiring much ability to get started. The Child can be intelligent and learn fast, but it also doesn't want to jump in at the deep end with complicated notes and complex hand movements. Think of the instrument you would ideally like to play, then look for more basic versions of it to practice with in the beginning - it's so much more fun that way!
Join a Group Activity The Child is sociable and friendly - they love to share their generous gifts with their community, and nothing feels better than a celebration amongst good people, so join a local group and build your community together. To share one's soul with the right company works like lava - once you are warm enough to spread out and share your love, everything and everyone around you starts to feel pretty warm, too!
Collect things Maybe you really like rocks, dried flowers, photos, special coins or stamps, or even something more obscure like traffic cones or china dolls - collecting something that has significance to you is a precious activity which teaches us patience, attention to detail, and gives us value to our lives. I don't see 100 books as "hoarding", I think: "gosh, what an impressive library!"
Practice "Expressive" Therapy This is something that I offer as a guided service as part of my Magick treatments, however you can practice your own self-care by finding some free time to quite literally, express your energy. Use your adult brain to recognise the emotion you are most feeling on the day, then when you have a moment to yourself, let this out in whatever form you see fit - if you are sad, just cry! If you are enraged, just scream and punch the air! If you are ecstatic, laugh loudly! If you feel emotionless, take a looong sigh and flail your arms around. We are conditioned to hide and suppress our emotions to "be polite" and "not upset others" when really all we need is a moment to ourselves to free ourselves of what is being contained!
Explore! If you can only prioritise your finances on one "big" thing this coming year, make it for a trip away. Even if you can only afford 1 week in Tenerife, make that week incredible! You don't have to book a bunch of fancy boat tours or even any tours at all, if you have a smartphone you can explore pretty much any country very easily. If you can't afford to travel abroad, use your free time to explore the many secret natural wonders of Britain instead. The Child is so curious and wild at heart - there really are many beautiful places waiting for you to find them.
Keep the Good Photos You know, the ones where everyone's smiling and having a great time. The ones which you took with your friend when you were 14 and pretending to be models. The ones where your family had everyone present, the ones you took when you first got together with your lover, the ones of your cousins pulling faces without a care in the world. The ones you took alone, of your pets, your journeys, your creations. Some day in the distant future you might lose track of all those memories and need a little reminder of all the fun you had...
So as you can see, being "childish" isn't the end of the world. Connecting with the Child spirit helps me stay grounded and feel more human anyway, so I hope it does too for you. What other ways do you like to use to connect with your inner child? Please feel free to leave a comment below...