It was 8pm and the kids’ joyful screams could be heard all around the place. There we were twelve adults sitting around a messy table in the back patio. The party started as a lunch, then it smoothly merged into coffee & cupcakes, and then continued as an improvised dinner. A house of a school friend of mine. A small house in the upper side of Barcelona.
We were sitting around the table laughing and talking nonsense. We talked about work, going fishing, cooking, and food. In Spain you always end up talking about food. Then David, the younger brother of my school friend, now is his thirties, popped up and told something about the snails. And it was funny and we could not stop laughing. Then the kids came chasing him and he run with them inside the house to continue playing hide-and-seek-carnival-twister-indians game. We could hear their enthusiastic giggling and laughter.
We spent the evening sitting outside talking, eating, drinking, and trying to relax. The three kids and David would stop by the patio sometimes and grab a piece of bread or a cupcake and disappear again in the depths of the house. Shouting and jumping. When David would sit at the table with us for a minute or two, with my son on his lap (my son did not want to separate from David even for a second), I would look at his face and know that he was the happiest person in the house. He was the only grown-up who was not self-conscious.
Later that night walking home under the dark starry sky I thought about David and the rest of us. Too often we make ourselves believe that we are not self-consious. We try to appear in our own eyes as naive, genuine and happy. We sit still, relax, and smile when somebody takes a picture. Too often we do not play with the children. Too often we do not laugh wholeheartedly. Too often we are too tired to play hide-and-seek or to take time and listen what games the children want to play with us. Too often during the day we convert into self-conscious grown-ups.
We were a great bunch of relaxed adults that night. David was the only one who was truly happy and enjoyed the moment. I think that it is easy to sit and overview what the children are doing. It is easy, and tiring, and not rewarding. Getting really involved with the kids and being part of the game takes more energy. It is also magical.