Finding your Inner-Child
My dad is a banker. I can’t help but laugh every time I respond with this phrase when people ask me what type of job my dad has. Saying that my dad works for a bank does not offer even a glimpse into what he actually does or what kind of person he is. Picturing my dad putting on a suit and tie and sitting at an office desk just seems so ironically hilarious to me; it is like imagining a toddler prepare to give a sales pitch or a clown giving a eulogy. I am not saying my dad is not good at his job, because he is remarkably good at it, and it is what puts food in my stomach and clothes on my family’s back. The fact is, I could name thousands of things my dad is other than a banker. He is compassionate, friendly, and gut-bustingly hilarious. To name a few of my dad’s unique regimens, he would go on practical joke sprees, spontaneously run into my room dressed in a ridiculous wig, and would occasionally drive my yellow Volkswagen Beetle to work because he liked the way he looked in yellow and the look on his co-workers’ faces seeing him step out of his daughter’s groovy car in a full suit and tie.
One of my favorite stories I like to tell of my dad took place this past summer. My mom, dad, and I decided to spend a Sunday afternoon at our local pool that I life-guarded at. It was rare of me to have a day off of work to relax, so I took advantage of this blissful, sun-soaking opportunity. My mom and I were lying on our backs on the pool chairs, gossiping about the next contestant of the Bachelor and what not, while my dad put on his tennis gear, consisting of his yellow hat, yellow shirt, and matching yellow socks, to play some ball at the courts next to the pool. “Gonna go hit around with a friend,” my dad remarked and whistled away. My mom and I just acknowledged him and continued to work on our bronze tans. A few minutes later, I peered over to the courts to watch my dad play some tennis, and I noticed that his ‘friend’ he so casually mentioned was a little girl, about the age of five. She resembled me at that age, bleach blonde hair tied up in a pony tail and a bubblegum-pink polka-dotted bathing suit. He would throw her the ball ever so lightly, perfectly into her racket, so that she could get the satisfaction of hitting the ball. The two of them would run wild in celebration, my dad lifting her up like a mini-airplane, every time the ball went over the net, and I could tell this young friend of my fifty-two-year-old dad was having the time of her life. An enormous smile grew on my face as I watched my dad spend nearly an hour more with this toddler, as fond memories flooded into my mind of the two of us once doing the same thing together, as father and daughter. Next thing I know, two young boys about the age of seven go running onto the court, rackets in hands, ready to join the party. I heard thunders of laughter coming from the tennis courts as I watched my dad pretend to be a monster of some sort, with all of the kids hitting tennis balls at him, losing control when the monster fell to the ground in defeat. Soon enough, my eyes wandered over to two or three more children running down to the court, and I watched my dad winding up at the bottom of a toddler dog-pile.
My mom just giggled and shook her head at the sight, as if she were accepting the fact that she knowingly married a child, or at least a man with a child’s soul. I suddenly felt all desire to lay around and get tan disappear, and I sprinted down to the tennis courts as giddy as ever. The young ones let my dad escape, but I tackled him just in time to start another dog-pile. My dad just roared with enthusiasm and never lost character. I felt my young, careless self come back to life in that moment, as if for a few minutes, it was as though I never grew up, never went to high school, never learned how to drive, and never became an adult. All of the bantering responsibilities and expectations that came with being grown-up disappeared, and my dad helped me realize how easy this was to do.Driving home from the long, exciting day at the pool, I asked my dad,
“Was that little girl really your friend?”
“Of course, she was! Who says your friends need age limits?” my dad responded. The more I thought about this, the truer it became. Nowhere does it outlaw people from goofing around or playing games once they hit a certain age. If someone as intelligent and successful as my dad can play monster and airplane with his toddler friends, then why should anyone hold back that joyous spirit? Life is too short to be taken seriously all the time. Sometimes you have to let go of the adult-like persona you are using to hide from the childlike energy and charisma that I believe everyone secretly holds back. I believe that life is not meant to be all straight-forward; it is meant to be spent playing and laughing. I believe that releasing your inner-child may just release your greatest joys in life. This I believe.