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Monday, December 5, 2011

Children on happiness

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled Children and happiness.

This time it will be Children ON happiness.

Which means I am giving a voice to children, for them to tell us about happiness.

More specifically, I asked my neighbour L, who is already a very interesting interlocutor at 11 years of age, to make a list of things that make her happy (and to say why they make her happy).

After all, L seems to have a talent for happiness. She's always smiling, laughing, talking enthusiastically about the people and the things that she likes. We have loads of fun together. One of our latest crazy moments happened when we decided to give a name to my Halloween decorations. For the bat, she came up with Strawberry, to be pronounced with a "transylvanian" accent: "Shtrrrowberrrrrrrrrry" (bats belong with vampires, after all). For the skull, we decided to play on contradictions and give that symbol of death a name that screams life. So the skull was baptised Fleurette, which in French means "little flower". We then went on to lengthily describe Strawberry's and Fleurette's personalities. Fleurette, in particular, has some interesting traits. According to L, she is a very vain little skull, who's always admiring herself in the mirror, and very concerned about looking feminine enough. One time, as she was leaving my house, L looked at Fleurette in the eye (or, should I say, in the eye-socket) and said "OK Fleurette, I have to go now. Take care! And remember: easy on the makeup!"

This kid will never cease to make me laugh.

Now here's L's list of things that make her happy:

- being the oldest of the kids: I get special rights
- friends: they always like my ideas
- pets: they don't argue with me, and they like to cuddle
- someone smiling: it makes me wanna smile too
- basketball and tae kwon do: it helps me get the anger out, and when I do good, my team mates cheer and give me high fives
- marshmallows: they're soft and sweet
- art class: I get to create and do beautiful things
- designing the house of my dreams: I like to imagine what my future will be like
- jumping in a pile of leaves: the colours, the smell, the fresh air
- riding a bike: I enjoy feeling the wind through my hair; it makes me feel clean
- parties, bonfires: I like staying up late; I feel like I'm a grown up
- sunglasses: they make me look "professional"

Such a simple list, and yet so full of wisdom. (Notice she didn't mention much material stuff!)
Everything L said can fit into one or more of the following categories: 

- feeling important
- a sense of belonging and connection
- projecting yourself in the future
- creativity
- contact with nature
- catharsis (through exercise, for example)
- love and affection
- immediate pleasure of the senses

Then that sweetheart added - and insisted that I write down - "I love being with J (that's me) because:

- she's funny and a little bit crazy like me; we make each other laugh
- we have picnics in the middle of nowhere: "Let's just put the blanket right here guys!... Ooops! An ants nest!"
- she shows me silly dance moves
- she gives us the best snacks, for eg: the "marshmallow test" (take a look at that video... too cute... and apparently a very accurate predictor of future success in life!)
- we watch hilarious clips on YouTube
- she explains to me the secret language of cats (watch the whole video for the translation!)
- she's the protector of all wild life, even slugs!
- she's the only grown up I know who's willing to hang upside down on the monkey bars."

Well, L, I love being with you too! You're smart, kind, funny, creative, and you certainly know how to pay compliments! ;-)

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