Through the Eyes of a Child

The other day, my daughter and I were playing detective. She was the detective, and I played the part of the exasperated client. I had lost my keys, you see, and desperately needed her to find them for me.

In her preparation, she commandeered my leather messenger bag, putting together a ‘detective kit.’ I offered to make her a permanent kit, so we found an old organizer, a flashlight, some papers, and a few other things. A detective must be properly equipped.

While making the kit, I noticed that she’d found and included my old Blackberry. I’ve been using this phone in rehearsal for my current play — being so light and expendable, it worked perfectly — so I offered to let her use my old Android phone, a three-year-old HTC Incredible which I hadn’t touched in two years. We swapped phones, putting the Incredible in the kit.

At the end of our little skit (don’t worry- she found my keys), without thinking, I told her that she needed to keep the phone in her detective kit. A private eye can’t exactly go walking around without a phone now, can she?

When I made the offer, it was of, to say the least, fleeting importance in my mind, almost an afterthought.

Then my daughter smiled. A huge, ear-to-ear, ohmygod I can’t believe this is happening to me smile.

I have a phone!? Really? Seriously? I have a phone now!?”

I immediately felt the need to manage expectations.

The phone doesn’t make phone calls, honey, it’s not ‘hooked up.’ I suppose, though, you could connect it to wifi and do some stuff with it.

She didn’t care that this was, essentially, an older, slower version of the tablet she already has. She just let herself get carried away by the excitement.

It reminded me of a description of the word ‘geek’ I recently read. According to the author, a geek is someone with a license to get excited. It’s not appropriate to be overly excited about anything; it’s not the adult thing to do. Geeks, though, make no qualms about their excitement. When a new phone, or a new app, or any number of wonderful devices or services spring up, we get excited, offering no apologies. We’re free to let the excitement carry us.

But why is this an exception, rather than the rule? Who came along at a given point in time and convinced us that child-like excitement must be banished once we pass into the realm of the grown-ups?

Excitement is the stuff of progress, after all. Who ever accomplished anything that they weren’t excited about? Edison was excited about light. Picasso was excited about perspective, and Mark Twain was certainly excited about Tom Sawyer.

It is the excitement which moves us forward, which propels us into the next stage. It is those who can find an excited child, kneel beside them and see with their eyes, through the muck of reality to the dreams waiting to be lived, that create our tomorrows.