“Free time!” The announcement from an Eagle at the end of work time always causes a quick eruption from desks and floor pillows as they run outside or gather to play games and snack.
I was happily observing an intense game of chess when 7 year old Megan rushed up to me obviously in distress, “Steven lost his happiness!”
“Steven lost his happiness?” I said. “Let’s go help him find it!” We rushed outside and sure enough, there was dear Steven sitting under a tree sobbing. We sat down with him in the grass. Criss-cross applesauce.
I leaned in to him and asked, “I heard you lost your happiness, do you know when?” He shook his head. I handed him some Kleenex to wipe his wet face.
More Eagles began to gather around – always curious when something is wrong. Nine year old Ellie walked up and said, “I know when he lost it. It was when Andrew asked if he wanted to play their game.”
Andrew, overhearing this, walked over. “Andrew, does that sound right?” I asked. “Maybe. I asked him to play, but he never joined the game.”
Steven looked up through his tears and said, “I don’t know how to play that game! You ran off to play without me after you said I could play!”
“Andrew, do you think you could explain how to play?” I asked. “Sure!” Andrew sat down and the rest of us went back to regular free time activities.
I looked back and saw them both run off together. Soon Andrew’s game of Zombie tag continued in full speed with Steven smiling, his happiness found.
Lessons I learned from the children on this day:
- Maybe you’re not an unhappy person. Maybe you just lost your happiness for a bit.
- Like losing your keys, if you think about when you lost your happiness, maybe you can retrace your steps, and find it again.
- Often it takes a small group of fellow travelers to help you find your way back to your happiness.
- It’s okay to sit under a tree and cry.
- Be willing to share. Vulnerability is the first step toward feeling free enough to play with abandon.