After an overwhelming response to last week’s blog, I was panicking to find a topic this week. A whole week of panicking. My Nutella levels went through the roof. Then I had one of the best conversations of my life with a four-year-old boy, and things made better sense. Things always make better sense when you spend a few minutes with a four-year-old.
I’m an actor, which means I am a nanny and a children’s entertainer (because most actors don’t work as actors). Working with children was a natural choice for me. Children get me, and I get them. It doesn’t say much for my maturity levels, but I don’t care. The other day, I chatted with a kid about what animal Grug might be for a good hour and a half (seriously, what the fuck is that thing?) and it became a existential chat about what defines a creature. Four-year-olds don’t worry about asking big questions. They don’t edit their imagination, or filter their statements. Four-year-olds just say it. And sometimes, their wisdom just about knocks me out.
What I’ve learned from four-year-olds.
Have faith in yourself and your work.
I watched a little girl, four years old, scribbling on a piece of paper as if her life depended on it. I asked her what she was doing. “I’m writing a really good story!” she responded, arm moving frantically. “What’s it about?” I asked. “I don’t know! I can’t read!” she said, shrugging her shoulders incredulously at my stupid question. I asked her how she knew the story was good if she couldn’t read it. She looked up at me, thought for one second, and said“I feel it in my tummy”. Then went back to scribbling. If only we could all have that much faith in our own intuition.
Everything has a silver lining.
I get a major kick out of reading bedtime stories. Lying next to the kids in bed, I go into ‘actor’ mode, inventing voices for the characters and pretending I’m on Play School, meanwhile defeating the purpose of trying to calm the children down before sleep time. One time, I got right into a book about zoo animals. Rhythmic rhyming structure, characters with accents – this book was brilliant. After one of the greatest performances of my career, I finished with gusto, closed the book and said, “That was a GREAT book! Did you like that book, Lachy?” to which he replied “I hated it. But it did have a monkey”. If that’s not finding a silver lining, I don’t know what is.
If you have everything you already want, just spread the love.
At a fairy party, there is always a special moment where I teach the kids how to make a Special Fairy Wish. To make a Special Fairy Wish, you blow a kiss in the air, catch it, and then whisper your wish to it. Once you have whispered, you rub your hands together until the wish gets warm with magic (or friction...) and then throw it into the air. One time, there was a gorgeous little chubby-cheeked girl, concentrating so hard that she had her eyes screwed up and tongue out, and I just HAD to lean in and listen to her wish. To my astonishment, she whispered “I wish... I wish... I LOVE PRINCESS DIANA”, and then, looking extremely satisfied with her choice, rubbed her wish between her hot little hands and threw it in the air. It was 2009, 12 years post-Diana*... but if you have nothing to wish for, why not throw some love in the air?
Technology is nothing to be scared of.
I was at the playground (nannying, not hanging out) and a little boy runs up to me.
Boy: “Hi. I’m Ned. I’m four. My favourite TV show is SuperTed.”
Me: “What? That was my favourite show when I was little, how have you seen that?”
Boy: “Duh. I just YouTubed it on my iPad.”
(This kid was wearing Velcro-ed sneakers, so he was still unable to tie shoelaces, and yet he was capable of using a YouTube search engine. I’m not sure if this is a good priority system or a bad one, but it was intimidatingly awesome, and made me want to learn how to properly use the new version of iTunes. I did... and then they bloody changed it again. I need Ned.)
Keep your feet on the ground.
A four-year-old girl asked me "what did you want to be when you growed up?”. I said "I still want to be an actor!" She looked me up and down, seeing me in the colourful outfit I wear as a party entertainer, and said, "Oh... It's not really working out for you, is it?". Then she sort of patted me on the hand and went off to play with some cushions. Humbling to say the least.
All you need is love.
At the end of a party, we often will do a little dance concert for the parents. Right before the parents walk in, I say to the kids “Okay! What do we have to remember when we show our Mummies and Daddies our dance?” aiming for the essentials of remembering to smile, to have fun, to shake our pom poms (LITERAL pom poms, not euphemistic pom poms, before you call Child Services), and so on. This year, I got a golden response from one little girl, who simply said, “that they love us”. I almost burst into tears. She was right – their performance quality didn’t matter, or whether they remembered to smile or shake their pom-poms (again, literal). The parents love it every time. As long as your parents love you, you can’t put a foot wrong.
Never worry about trivial pursuits such as what to write on a little blog page, because some people have far more important shit to deal with.
At work, a spider dropped down from the ceiling and landed in front of a little boys’ face. I was alerted to this fact by an almighty blood-curdling scream (pretty sure the spider will need hearing aids forever more), I turned around as the white-faced, wide-eyed little tacker threw himself off his chair and into his mum’s loving arms. A couple of minutes later, after his mum had performed some grade-A soothing cuddles and I had removed the spider**, he returned to his chair, still hiccupping and with wet eyelashes. I knelt down next to him, apologised, and told him that when I had taken the little spider outside, the spider had turned around and told me he didn’t mean to scare the little boy, he just wanted to be friends. I asked the little fella, somewhat jokingly, if maybe he thought he might be Spiderman. He took this very seriously, and slowly responded “I might be. I do really like my Spiderman costume. Maybe I’m just too little to know yet.” He asked if I thought it likely that the spider had looked through his roof and seen him in his Spiderman costume, then followed him to the party. By this point, I was on a high from imagination excitement and being close to so much cuteness. I agreed with him that yes, the spider probably had seen him in his costume and known that this boy was the future Spiderman, so they better be friends now. My little man looked off into the distance, with a furrowed brow and dreamy wide eyes, and said “Wow.... I have a lot to think about”.
I thought I had a lot to live up to.
The biggest lesson from the small stuff: Don't sweat the small stuff.
Thanks for the beautiful response to the Adelaide post last week.
To the negative responders - hang out with a four-year-old ASAP.
*In case you are curious why a four-year-old could have such an interest in Princess Diana 12 years A.D (After Di), I asked her mum at the end of the party, and she sheepishly admitted to having a lot of Diana paraphernalia including a wall of collectable china plates. Like mother, like daughter.
**I am absolutely terrified of spiders, to the point where I still have nightmares around once a week. But this spider was smaller than a 5c coin, looked mildly friendly, and had had a pretty bad day, so I was sympathetic to his condition.
By Lucy Gransbury. Follow her on Twitter @LucyGransbury. Or follow her in real life. She's probably Googling 'what the fuck is Grug?'.