Back in 2006 i did a Masters degree which involved an element of theatre. To encourage us to work with an attitude of play, one of our teachers advised being ‘childlike…not childish’.
Childlike: playful, curious, non-judgemental, open-minded, joyful, energetic, trusting, genuine, honest, spontaneous, fresh
Childish: petulant, immature, demanding, impatient, self-centred, disparaging, needy, clingy, controlling, manipulative, repetitive
I was reminded of the magic of ‘childlike’ this evening when I watched the 2011 French film Tomboy I’m told it has attracted both acclaim and controversy in France through its central storyline of a pre-pubscent girl who passes herself off as a boy. It’s the most thought-provoking film I’ve seen in a long time. The performances are stunning; the girl who plays the little sister is a scene-stealer. Most of the characters are children and my god, they play. They run, they swim, they fight, they dance, they argue, they talk, they kiss. They just are.
That’s what my teacher meant by ‘childlike’. I need more of that in my life. I think we all do.
I have no children in my life. None. I’m not sure if I ever will.
The only child I was ever close to was a little boy I babysat when I was 19. He went on holiday with his poor lovely mum and he died in an accident. I loved that boy. I still miss him. He had a beautiful soul. He embodied the best of childlike. If he’d lived, he’d now be almost as old as I was when I babysat him.