Last week, I had the pleasure of babysitting this little boy, Wile. He lives in my Brooklyn neighborhood and I always love an occasional babysitting job to get a kid fix. Little did I know, I actually got paid to be entertained. Now I know why Mary Poppins kept with her gig.
Upon entering the house and meeting the mom, Kristin, I knew it was going to be a great night. Wile is an 8 year old with a Mohawk and a seasoned taste in music. Kristin mentioned that a typical night with a sitter involves Wile selecting a David Bowie record, warming tea, and playing cards. While I thought I was in for a stimulating game of ‘Go Fish,’ he actually taught me how to play Gin Rummy. I really couldn’t believe I was hanging out with an 8 year old…I felt like I owed him at the end of the night.
My friend Grace and I always talk about our babysitting adventures. She and I agreed that kids are such a good influence on life. I always love spending time with kids because they are 100% themselves and don’t worry about “fitting in.” We should always be authentic and kids are just that.
This past weekend, my friend Meg and I talked about the joy of kids too. She has two, Caroline and Harrison, and they are like my niece and nephew. While children can really test your boundaries and challenge your strength, they are a refreshing taste of life. I told her I love spending time with kids because they aren’t trying to be anyone but themselves. I respect and love spending time with two age groups…children and middle-aged adults. The question my other friends and family always ask…WHY? The answer: For the most part, these people are who they are and own it. There comes a time when young teenagers find the need to fit in and “try on” other personalities. This is the beginning of a long process and for some, never ends. If you are lucky, you slowly find people coming back into themselves sometime after college. I was always the odd man out…by no means perfect though. I, of course, had a “try on” period, but didn’t allow it to last long. I find my energy has been better spent trying to improve on my authentic personality. It is the hardest job of all but the rewards of self-improvement are far greater than those of self-alterations.
I find that it’s easiest for me to seek out those with authentic personalities. I have never discriminated on age because I know personalities are far more important to me than anything else. I have more respect for those who have worked hard to realize who they are and how they can benefit others just from being themselves. The best gift you can give, is the gift of yourself. XO