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embrace the wildness

Miss Charlotte-Rose, a second-grader at age 8, is living her best life. Watching this kid grow up, I am in awe of her magical spirit, that glowing ember within. It's the pure kind of magic that, for many of us, is quelled by fear and weariness with time. A gradual chipping away of the soul happens when acquiescence to what is expected of us goes against our inner natures.

As parents and bystanders, the feral nature of children can feel overwhelming, but it's also there for a reason. An alternative approach to suppressing their wildness is in finding creative ways to redirect it. I'm not suggesting children shouldn't have boundaries or discipline. I'm talking strategy.

At all ages, we tend to resist what's forced upon us, no matter how well intentioned. The underlying, if unspoken message being, "What are you doing? What's wrong with you?" Reframing this as, "What's going on, let's figure this out," invites collaboration in problem-solving and in practice, this builds confidence.

In the early stages of raising sons, I tried to aim their energy towards things constructive rather than destructive: "Go climb that, and if you want to throw rocks, do it over there." Or, "You MAY NOT use your hands to hurt your brother, but you CAN use them for something helpful, like putting away your own laundry." Sometimes we had to run it off like Cesar Millan and his dogs. In all instances, movement was more effective than trying to force them to sit still and be quiet.

The domestication of our wildness that starts as children, stirs a growing restlessness that makes us question whether who we are is worthy of acceptance by the world. This is especially true of creatives and those whose thinking and behavior challenges the way things are typically done. It's what addicts and alcoholics often identify as their real problem - lack of acceptance and not feeling like a fit for the world.

As adults, this continual self-denial calls to light some of our greatest fears and bears the nagging question: Do we listen to the "inner critic" for a better chance at acceptance and survival, or acknowledge our longing, knowing that we will most likely be miserable otherwise?

"Look it up, and you’ll find the primary meaning of wild is “natural.” In turn, natural comes from the Latin nasci, meaning “to be born”... Wilderness, then, is not only the nature you find outdoors. It can also refer to your own true Nature. This inner wildness is the untamed truth of who you really are." - G. May, The Wisdom of Wilderness.

My message to the youngest child is this: Seek harmony with yourself, respectfully of others who are all also (always) still figuring out themselves. Learn from one another's strengths and challenges, not from other people's misplaced judgments and fears, including mine.

Ask all the questions. Put in the work for the things that matter most TO YOU. Live loud, girl. You be you, and all you have yet to become.

This, by the way, is a new take on this year's school photo - a "school of life" photo. We're playing tourists, having some fun, and underneath all that, we're celebrating the priority of learning through vivid life experience, inclusive of all the joy and folly that comes with it.


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