The most frequent way my husband gets on my nerves is when he is behaving child-like. Do not pretend that you do not have a similar peeve about your significant other. Especially, do not confuse child-like with “childish,” the word adults use when someone’s behavior is negative and we wish to cause embarrassment by equating him or her with a person not yet fully grown. (That word childish is really an example of linguistic laziness, that instead of defining behaviors we dislike, we demean children. Must be Victorian.) Anyway, back to Nick.
My husband is often child-like. He lingers too long in what should be a glance. He smiles to himself and likes to pat my nose with the tip of his index finger. He can stare out at nothing. Nick even will run around in the back yard to let the dogs chase him. It’s wonderful and sometimes annoying. He regularly mixes Emergen-C with a variety of juices and Gatorade although the directions clearly state to mix with 4-6 ounces of water. It reminds me of kids at the soda fountain making a mixture of each available soda. Why did it always seem like the boys did that the most? Nick enjoys a lot of life the way I see children enjoying life. Not so serious all the time. He’s serious when he needs to be, when it is required, but I get to see that not-serious side more often than most of the world. I’m not as thankful for that as I want to be. I’m learning.
I’m not sure if I was a serious baby, but ‘round about 8 or 9 I became a serious kid. Others may have noticed it or maybe not, but that’s about the time I did. A lot of my childhood is fuzzy on account of that seriousness creeping in. Many memories are locked behind walls of seriousness. I could explain it, but it would sound like blaming others and bringing more hurt into the world is not on the to-do list.
One of my mentors, the amazing Bob Hill, has told me more than once “to learn how to be a kid again.” (That’s not an exact quote, but the jest of what he’s told me over the years.) The important part of that advice has often boiled down to me TRYING to be a “kid again.” Inner monologue becomes: “Just have fun. Stop worrying. Let loose. Do something because you want to, not because there is a reason. Let the dogs chase you. Try. Try. Try.“ I’d try and fail. Then beat myself up. I’d try and fake it. Then beat myself up about that. Yeah, you read that right. I’d try to be a kid again and wind up taking it so seriously that I’d beat myself about it.
My epiphany in this advice is that my important word is LEARN. I’ve been loosening up with the help of my sweet Nick for over 5 years now, but it’s always been in relation to Nick. Moving to Tulsa at the end of July 2010 without Nick made clear that time alone was open for whatever I wanted to do. Netflix to the rescue. I watched serious movies, documentaries, and then whole series of Battlestar Galactica (21st Century version.)
My dad made a ritual of watching Star Trek reruns when we were little. We would build a fort out of couch cushions and blankets in the living room. We’d raise our hands as our own make-believe Enterprises. At just the right time –swoosh– our little Enterprises would move when the starship would warp speed across the screen to the next galaxy before the credits in the opening sequence. If you do not know the glory of having your hand swoosh in such a way as a make-believe Enterprise, here’s the opening. Have fun! (It’s a :29 in the video.)
Battlestar Galactica came to my attention through some friends who talked about it A LOT when it was on the air. One of those friends is a total T.V./movie/pop culture/#everythingsupercool aficionado. I took his word for it and watch the whole series. It was really, really good. And very, very serious. Not at all like the campy, over-the-top elements of Star Trek à la William Shatner and Tribbles.
Not too long after, I happened upon the wonderful character of Capt. Jack Harkness and then the wonderfulness of DOCTOR WHO. I fell in love with the show. First it was Rose, then the 10th Doctor. Since then, more companions and another Doctor. It was a kind of love that needed to be learned. Love of something fun. Love of something magical. Love of something altogether impossible but true. Love of something silly. Love of something for no other reason than I liked it. I guess Love is kind of a strong word. Perhaps the better word is wonder, but you can’t really say, “I fell in wonder.” Well, I guess I did. I know it is wonder because I’ve seen that same look on a child’s face as I felt on mine when I saw this at the Tulsa Holiday Parade this year…
This, my friends, is a jumbo sized Dalek made by some interior design firm here in Tulsa as their float for the parade. “That’s a Dalek.” Pause. ”Hey, Nick, I think that’s a Dalek.” Pause. “Is that Dalek?” “Yes, THAT’S A DALEK!” Those are the words I said out loud, not just in my head. Those are words that very serious Kelli said out loud in a public place out of shear wonder of seeing something that made me so excited. That was the first moment where out of my own skin and with no one else’s encouragement I proved (to myself) I had LEARNED how to be a kid again! Turns out, it didn’t need trying; it needed doing.
I intend on a lot more doing this year. Doing, practicing, learning. NO TRYING. One day, Nick and I will be parents. I can’t let Nick be the only one who shares in the child-like fun. Me too! Me too! Can you see me with my hand raised high? Not behind a desk this time, but ready for the next ride!
In the words of Miroslav Volf “I don’t fear that at the end God will ask why I wasn’t Moses (great leader) or Thomas Aquinas (towering intellect), but why I wasn’t myself.”
Here’s a picture of me in my Doctor Who gear that Nick got me for Christmas. Unbeknownst to me, he ordered it online as soon as we got home from that Parade.
P.S. The more I embrace the child-like me, the less the child-like Nick bugs me. Funny how that works.