I think four is the perfect age. You are still innocent, full of energy, life is simple and of course you believe in magic. I watched a four year old playing recently and I allowed myself the luxury of slipping into her world for a few moments…
It was hot. Especially hot on the playground full of white, dry, dusty sand but the two black tire swings looked like fun. The tire swings were each cleverly cut out to resemble horses. She jumped on the nearest one and started swinging as high as she could go. She was hoping to catch a cool breeze but the air that pushed the hair off her face was still warm. A bigger boy approached, he looked like he might be in grade one. He wore glasses and looked smart.
“Mind if I ride?” he asked.
Weird, what kind of kid talks like that, she wondered and frowned at him. She didn’t say anything, just watched him climb up on the other horse. She didn’t like boys much and she definitely did not want to play with this one. After a silent moment she allowed the swing to slow down and then she jumped, leaving her tire horse rearing from side to side. The weird boy was forgotten before she hit the ground.
She liked how her dress floated all around her for the brief second that she was airborne. Her feet sank in the sand a little. She liked feeling the hot sand seep in through slats in her sandals and settle around her toes. It was fun to flick the sand ahead of her while she walked. She was looking down at her feet until she reached the edge of the playground. She was so hot.
“MEGAN!” her mom was calling.
The second she looked up, it caught her eye. A sprinkler! It was on the grass just a few feet past the playground. The sprinkler was on a long metal spike that stuck in the ground and its sprayer was exactly her height. She ran to it while her mother’s calls got more and more frantic.
“Stay OUT of the water! DO NOT GET YOUR DRESS WET!”
She reached the sprinkler in seconds and put her hands around the top of it, spraying water through her fingers so it shot out at her in every direction. It felt wonderful. Her mother stayed at a safe, dry distance and continued screeching at her to get away from the sprinkler. She blocked it all out. She dropped her hands and let the water splash and mist all over her. She looked down and watched droplets stream down the wet strands of her hair. It dripped down her arms and legs and washed the sand out of her sandals. It tickled. It was perfect.
A moment later she skipped over to her mother, smiling, still enjoying the cool water on her skin. Her mother grabbed her hand and continued lecturing her while pulling her away.
As she passed by me, she looked up and we caught eyes. I smiled at her. My eyes told her – Good for you! Enjoy the simple pleasures life offers you. Seize those moments whenever you can. Run through every sprinkler.
She smiled back at me and her eyes replied – Oh, I plan on it… but why don’t you anymore?