Life is funny. I didn’t even like children before we had one. But since then, well, let’s just say that I tend to gravitate to kids more than adults in mixed social settings. I think this is because I never completely transitioned out of childhood. And it took having a child of my own for me to realize it.
Since Agatha was a little girl, we’ve played together. Hard. Whether that meant creating adventures with little plastic animals on the carpet, or creating fantasy worlds out in the yard, I’ve consistently encouraged her to push her imagination to the edges. And she’s consistently insisted that I do the same. I oblige, of course. Wonder is a terrible thing to let waste.
But Agatha is eleven. And we both know that things are about to change. She starts Middle School this year and I can see it in her eyes that she realizes she’s about to take a major step in life. She sees the physical and psychological changes in her friends, and we’ve always been open about how the human animal evolves from childhood through adolescence into adulthood. She knows that there’s a massive transition lurking and that her grip on the rope of childhood is slipping. I can also see in her eyes that she’s ready for the changes. And yes, perhaps a little melancholy about it.
I’ve never known a more contented child. If you were to tell Agatha that there was a place she could go where she never had to grow up, she’d pack her bags in one second. And pack mine in the next. The bond we share, based on our mutual love of wonder, is something I never thought about losing. But here we are – on the doorstep of change. In spite of this, I’m hopeful that if childhood’s wonder has been able to linger in me for so long, that it will continue to linger in her as well. Wonder is a terrible thing to let waste.
Yes, part of me is melancholy too. A big part, actually. I love this human being in a unique and devastating way. She is my inspiration to squeeze as much life out of life as possible. She understands what it means to surrender to wonder in order to let imagination take flight. Too few people I’ve known in life do. In fact, until eleven years ago, I thought I was the only one.