By Beth Wilson

Do you remember the bubbles, kites, and bicycles of your childhood? Sticky bubble hands, cricks in your neck from watching your kite dip and dive, and road rash from a turn taken too fast on the bike—those faded memories stir in me lately as I look hard for the little girl who still lives in my heart.

I haven’t knocked on her door and asked her to come out and play in a long, long time.

We Should Invite Our Kids—the Little Boy or Girl Inside Us—to Play.

Experts say that adults who acknowledge the needs of their inner child—whether by addressing childhood fears or allowing pent-up creativity and playfulness to express—are more equipped to successfully deal with adult stressors. Who among us doesn’t want to better deal with stress?

If you’ve been feeling way too adult lately with too much work and not enough intentional play time, think about this question: Where does the lingering child in me end and my adult self begin?

As adults, we often think we should repress our child-like qualities and “act our age.” But what age, exactly?

Adults and Our Mini Selves

The truth is there is no clear delineation between you as a child and you as an adult. Just when you think you see the line drawn between the two, it shifts.

We adults assign time periods to the continuum of life, beginning with the age of thirteen when we’re supposed to enter a training ground of sorts for adulthood.

However, you don’t ever have to completely separate from your childhood if you don’t want to!

My friend Joe knows how to acknowledge his inner little boy.

When I saw him the other day, he was standing outside the building where we were both attending a meeting. He reached into the front pocket of his bib overalls and pulled out a small, clear tube containing a bluish color liquid.

I watched in amazement as he took the top off the tube—which, you guessed it, was a plastic stick with a tiny oval on the end—and began blowing bubbles. “Ah,” he said. “This is a good batch.”

I looked around to see if anyone was watching.

Joe was unfazed. “Haven’t you seen me with these? I carry a tube of homemade bubbles around with me most of the time.”

My question, of course, was “Why?” To which he answered, “It helps me when I get a case of red-ass.”

Now I looked around to see if anyone overheard.

“And what is ‘red-ass?’” Big Me questioned.

“Red-ass,” Joe said in a matter-of-fact tone, “is when I get so mad that my face turns red and I want to kick somebody’s ass. So I blow bubbles instead.”

What could I say, besides “oh?”

Joe is a great example of a person with a free-flowing relationship between his child-self and his adult-self.

Feeling Too Adult? Try the B Here Today Litmus Test

This test is simple, but the answers are crucial. Ask yourself these three questions:

  • Do you take yourself too seriously?
  • Do people regularly say to you, “Geez, lighten up!”
  • By the end of the workday, are your shoulders up around your ears, is your jaw locked, and does your neck feel like a taut rope?

There are many days when I can answer yes to all of those questions. Maybe you can too.

I’ve been advised to open my heart and arms to Little Beth. When I do, I can feel her giggle and wiggle with glee.

Little Beth craves attention through playfulness, silliness, delight, and childlike wonder. “Why you gotta always be so serious and grown up?” she asks.

Why, indeed?

What about you? Do you easily allow your inner child to come out and play and frolic or is it hard for you to loosen the buttoned-up, adult you? Share how your inner child expresses him/her self!

Beth Wilson writes a blog called B Here Today, where you can find her e-book B Here On Purpose and learn how to find balance between your outer and inner worlds. Also be sure to check her out on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

*Photo by zachstern.