Recently I’ve had the magical experience of hanging out with a 4 year old boy. The first few times we chilled together, I could not help but to be amazed of how quickly he was able to bring me back to being four again. This to me was especially surprising because as some of you may know, I’ve been a grown up for quite some time. In addition, I’ve consciously navigated through my dating experiences with the underlined mission of avoiding single moms. Kids just haven’t been a part of my life and the thought of ever having to share my life with one had the same affect to me as the sound of nails on a chalk board.

One morning I decided to take on the challenge of being open minded and actually dating a single mom. I thought how bad could it really be? “If I hang out with her kid and I don’t like it, well, I can return him back to the mother and go home”. The plan seemed perfect. I could experience what it would be like to interact with a child on a part time bases and go back to my regular life at the end of the day. Not to mention, the curiosity was killing me. My brother had a child and he talked about how positive this event was in his life. My friends with kids always talked about how kids were so amazing. I could never take part in some conversations because I could not relate. In some cases, when my friend Shawn would talk to me about his son, I felt like we were speaking different languages and somehow I kept missing the punch line. I decided to move forward with the adventure.

Me and the 4 yr Old:

The first encounter was actually a little over whelming. The little guy seemed to get upset at just about everything. He cried because he wanted candy, whined about wanting juice, complained about where we were going and last but not least, he talked nonstop. I kept thinking he would eventually run out of oxygen and have to take a breath. I could not help to think about human physiology and some important questions came into play. “How long can a person talk before running out of saliva”? I can honestly say that I still don’t know the answer.

We arrived at the park and I had a plan. I would picnic with mommy while the little man would play with the kids at the park. What I failed to realize was that the little man also makes plans. He’s plan included me playing with him. In addition, there is no way to tell a 4 yr old “No”. Four year olds get their feeling hurt and if you try to be polite and simply shift attention, they call you on it. “Alexis, I’m talking to you. I want you to play with me. Please?” How can you say “no” to that? After all I am the adult. I should understand the fact that this child likes to play and requires attention just like I did when I was four. We began to play. First we played on the castle like structure. We moved on jumped into a swing and began to swing front to back. “Let’s see who can go faster”? The little guy said. Once we came off the swings the little guy stated that he had a plan. “Let’s race to where the ducks are and feed the ducks”? We began to run. I’ve never seen anyone have this much energy. “What do you feed him”? I asked mommy. I was thinking maybe he was on a Red Bull & Power Bar diet. As an adult who is always looking on how to capitalize on situations, I was thinking on how to bottle the energy and sell it. Forget the 5 hour energy drink. If I could bottle and sell this energy, I would solve the weight problem in America while increasing productivity in the nation by at least 30%. Even though I was on and off thinking about all this, I was also having a great time. Before I knew it or could see what was happening, I was four again.

After the initial park day, mommy and I had a very important conversation. If we were to keep hanging out with the little guy, we would have to make an agreement. No matter what, If we were to stop dating we would stay friends and still hang out. This was a requirement. I could not allow for the little one to get used to me and somehow go though the disconnect if mommy and I broke up. We agreed and continued to date.

A few months later we spent a weekend at the beach and played in the hotel pool. The little man and I would take turn throwing each other in the pool. As I walked to grab a drink from the table, the little guy walked to my cousin and asked for him to take on my role and throw him in the pool. As I heard this in the back ground and turned around, I stated, “Make sure he lands with his feet first”. It was too late. There was a splash. The little guy came to the surface and even though he was ok, I knew he did not like the experience. I immediately pulled him out and asked him to go into the other pool with his mommy. It was not intentional; my cousin was just trying to play with the little one. However, I could not help but to be somewhat angry. The little guy did not get angry and fifteen minutes later, after my cousin and I had a conversation, both my cousin and I were throwing him back in the pool.

I came home a couple of days later and was having lunch with my friend. We were talking about my recent experiences and I mentioned the incident with the little guy and my cousin. After describing how I felt, she replied, you seem a little protective of the little guy. That’s when it hit me. Yes, I was protective. The little guy had somehow won me over. I no longer chilled out with him just to see mommy but I actually was enjoying my time with him. He had become a part of my experience.

Kids are a pain and they demand attention, throw fits, cry, laugh, feel, argue and do everything adults do. The difference is, they don’t hold on to anything, if you upset them, they let it go in minutes and they are still your friend. If you say “no” and their feelings get hurt, they let it go and forget about it in minutes and you are still their hero. Their spirit is pure and doesn’t hold on to anything. Their love is unconditional and they don’t really expect anything in return. In addition, the idea that they feel invincible and need you to protect them from themselves places us in a hero type role. When it come to kids we must do all we can to preserve those qualities of innocence as well as the ability to hold on to nothing and let go of everything. As adults our lives would be simple if we could understand that nothing is worth holding on to. Life is about the experience. Therefore, live it and let it go. We can learn so much from the mind of a four year old.