Childish Behavior

A few weeks ago my friend and I took a long awaited and highly anticipated trip. Ever since graduating from RN school together and becoming nurses last year, we had been looking forward to this trip. It was to be the crowning jewel of our journey through university together, as well as an opportunity to become even better friends through a shared interest. Where did we go? You might be guessing Europe, Asia, an exotic country, a road trip, or some other traditional milestone destination. If so, you’d be wrong. We went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Of course, while we were in Orlando, Florida, we had to visit the rest of the Universal Studios Parks, and Disney World as well (how could we NOT??) It was an amazing trip and not just because we are both fanatical Harry Potter fans. It was also incredibly liberating and cathartic to just be kids in a park again - kids with a budget that was readily spent at those welcoming souvenir shops, of course.

Photo courtesy of Steve Burke

It was childish behavior in the best sense possible. It wasn’t about acting immature or naïve (which is often the implication when someone is labeled ‘childish’), but rather about nurturing our imaginations. I observed a lot about the ways in which children experienced the park, which exemplified some of the qualities we aspire to as adults. In adulthood, we work long and hard at creating stability and security, often at the expense of those same qualities. Here’s a rundown of those childlike characteristics, which I tried to embody and had a blast nurturing on my trip. Perhaps trying to focus on these in our everyday lives will lead us to more enriched and fun-filled experiences.

Take Risks - whether it’s trying out crazy creations at the theme park food stands or sucking it up to go on that massive, scary roller coaster, us kids in Florida were just diving in. There were moments (especially on the Dr. Doom Fear Drop at Universal Studios) where I had genuine fear of my heart stopping on a ride. But I was inspired by the little kids all around me who were channeling that fear into excitement. I figured if they could do it, I could do it. Then, on some of the scarier roller coasters, my friend and I (in true Harry Potter geek form) told ourselves to imagine that we were riding brooms and it became fun rather than terrifying. Ok, maybe the Harry Potter analogy won’t work in all situations, but being a little braver in order to experience new things that seem intimidating or scary is probably something we could all do more of.


Photo courtesy of David Woo

Use your Imagination - Sometimes, using the power of imagination can transform the environment around us. In theme parks especially, it was great to see all the staff and buildings completely embody the fantasies they were depicting. For instance, walking into Seuss-Land in Universal Islands of Adventure felt like stepping into a Dr. Seuss book. In Disneyworld, the characters (like Cinderella, Belle, and Mickey) were totally in character. The idea is not to convince children to believe they could run into these people and places outside the theme park, but as long as they are inside the park, they can escape into a place where all the beautiful things they have read about have come to life. Using our imagination in our day to day activities can be as simple as taking the time to escape into a book, a work of art, or hobbies we enjoy. We also use our imaginations when we adopt fresh perspectives or try to see our world in a different way.

Take the time to Experience, rather than just Observe - Though it was tough to wait in long lines, the experience at the end (a ride, meeting Mickey, or waiting to see a song and dance number) was worth waiting for. It was funny watching the contrast between the parents in line, who kept looking at their watches, and their children, who couldn’t care less about the 45 more minutes they had to go before the ride because they were just so excited - the lineup itself became an experience for them. A side note of practical advice here: for anybody planning a trip to a theme park with their friends or family, get used to lines and waiting - the faster you accept that there will be lines, the less angst you will experience on your trip. Perhaps there’s a metaphor here for enjoying the line as much as the ride, the journey as much as the destination. But more importantly, it’s necessary to have the patience and courage to experience as much as we can in our lives, rather than standing on the sidelines. Let’s take a lesson from our childhoods and engage in activities and experiences simply for the sake of WANTING to do them - not because we have to, or because we feel we should.


As a final note, I want to encourage the adults out there to go out and do something they have wanted to do but have held back because they thought it was too childish. For instance, leave your children at home with a good babysitter and go to the park, zoo, carnival, paint studio, or sports event. There are experiences out there that are made for the children in all of us, but sometimes we are too busy being adults to indulge in them. Without work and social obligations, alcohol, gossip, or any other drama, let’s try to have fun for the sake of fun.