Sunday, 2 November 2014

Child's play

Two giggly voices are echoing around the room, interspersed with the sound of paintbrushes dabbing furiously onto paper, and accented by the occasional SPLAT! of bare feet jumping up and down on the spot. This is the activity of two children painting, first thing on a Sunday morning. Oblivious to the November wind and driving rain outside, they are fully immersed in painting a forest: this one has purple, red and green apples growing there. Aw, how sweet! It also contains poo, but we won't dwell on that...

As the two friends continue to paint, they are unaware of everything else around them. I wonder if they would even notice if a horse clip-clopped its way across the kitchen, as they are really enjoying the act of creating this picture, together.

When they finish, they stand back a bit and admire their work. I ask them to imagine being in the forest: they immediately press their noses against the paper and try to get into the picture. "can you imagine how those apples smell" I ask them, and they both take in a big breath through their noses, as if to smell the fruit. Then they are done; they abandon their work of art, and run off to engage in the next activity, the painting forgotten in an instant, and replaced with the next delight.

It's easy to be a child in terms of living in the moment: to focus the mind and the body completely on whatever it is they are doing, block out the outside world, and totally immerse themselves in their present experience. If you've ever got involved in a task and become completely focused on it - then looked at the clock and surprised yourself by the unnoticed passage of time - this is what young children are like for most of their day. Lucky them: I might have to try it, myself!

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