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The Eternal Joys of Immaturity

Our kids are on to something. They must be, because while we lament the erratic state of the stock market or count our carbs or sweat the next notice from the IRS, all the stuff of an impending stroke, they're in the back seat singing Old McDonald and Bingo was his name-o," over and over until we barely hear it any longer. Of course they're happier than we are, they have someone footing the bill for their next happy meal and the most important things in their day timer are recess and the next episode of Hanna Montana. We rationalize their inexplicable joy as temporary, resigned to the fact that they'll discover the real world soon enough and the song will be silenced forever. So we tolerate their repetitive karaoke with a sad little smile, and perhaps, in a weak moment, we find ourselves wanting to sing along.

Here's something to consider. If you're really, truly honest with yourself, chances are those moments when you really do join your kid in a chorus of nonsensical humming straight off Sesame Street - let's get real, chances are you don't remember the words - are the most wondrous and carefree of your day. Maybe your month. Those occasional flashbacks to the complete and utter immaturity of childhood are like little power naps of reinvigoration, if nothing else than because they remind us that we really don't need a new three-carat stone or a widescreen plasma to be happy - deep inside you know this is a transient bliss, since there will always be bigger diamonds and wider screens - that true, enduring joy resides in the little things embraced by children. Here, then, are some ideas on how to go back in time and, for at least a few minutes, discover the utter freedom to be found in complete, uncompromised immaturity.

Buy a yo-yo and see how long it takes you to remember how to do the church steeple and the walk the dog trick. Stop for an ice cream cone. Heck, make it a double. Roll down the windows, even though it's January. Turn the radio up full blast. Play a practical joke on someone you like because you enjoy the way their face lights up when they smile. Take a twirl around pole without caring who sees. Write a note to someone for no reason. Make up a limerick (be advised, try to avoid using the word "Nantucket" in the first line). Play slug-bug while riding in your car (in case you forgot, the first person to spy a Volkswagen gets to slug the others, which once upon a time was a hearty pleasure). Order a cheeseburger at a fine restaurant during lunch with clients. Make flatulent noises with your mouth (preferably not at lunch with clients). Sing to yourself, even if you have to make up the melody.

If nothing else, your kids will think you're cool long past the age when most decide their parents really aren't, and you'll find yourself enjoying their company in ways you thought went away with their training wheels. And who knows, you may find yourself doing some of this when you're alone. And if you do, then you're not really alone after all, you're spending time with that kid in you that never really left, who has just been waiting for an invitation to come and play. Laughter really is the best medicine, and when it comes to the elixir of eternal youth, nothing says happy quite like a wet willy administered to an unsuspecting friend.

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