Turn Down After five

The title of this blog post might suggest that I am going to share what life is like after thirty years old and how it feels like I am “turning down” a lot more than I am “turning up.”  While there may be lots of truth to that statement, I do not intend to expound on that in this post.  This blog post IS about the behavior of people after a certain age; and that age is five.  Yep, five years old.

In my life, I’ve had the pleasure to spend a lot of time around young kids and I’ve learned that they have a unique gift of transparency, which inevitably allows them to always be “turned up.”  They turn up the truth, they turn up the laughter, and they turn up the ability to live life!  Let me quickly qualify the term “turned up.” I am in no way speaking of the need to ingest a lot of alcohol or drugs in order to become a more authentic person in speech.  As adults, we know that both drugs and alcohol not only inebriate you, but they also make you honest.  When I think of kids being turned up, I am struck by the reality that they don’t need a thing to be authentic.  They just are.

My niece and I. Of course, I am wearing another pair of “stylishly chic” pants.

Some of the brutally honest and terribly funny things kids have said to me over the years have caused me to literally, laugh out loud.  Take for instance, the time I wore a pair of pants that I would qualify as “stylishly chic,” and I was told by a kid that I looked like I was wearing pajama bottoms!  Pajamas, really?  Kids don’t know style!  Do they?  I still enjoy wearing those pants and asking kids what they think of them.

With more than 10 nieces and nephews ranging from the age of 2 – 10, I have been gifted with the ongoing perspective of kids even outside of my role in youth development.   Keep in mind that my perspective is pure conjecture. However, it seems to me that something happens to little [human] beings after the age of five and they learn that it is important to assuage people and make sure their responses garner a positive response.  They do away with pajama pant statements.  After five years old, kids seem to begin caring about what others think.  This steady loss of transparency has a way of slowly altering our actions as adults.  It helps us to live with facades and forces us to “turn down” our authenticity.  This may be the first time you ever hear me exhort anyone to “turn up,” but please dear ones, TURN UP YOUR AUTHENTICITY after FIVE.  If anything, as adults, we have a deeper need for family and friends to be real with us.

This is purely anecdotal, but here are a few lessons we can learn from the little ones on how to stay turned up:

  • Be truthful.  As adults this gift sometimes fades for fear of offense.  People still yearn for truth and we can speak it in love.  Let love lead the conversations.
  • Be yourself. Kids wear batman costumes to the grocery store because they are superheroes.  As adults, we have a ton to offer one another by being ourselves (even if we have superhero tendencies).  Don’t give the world a watered down version of yourself.  Kids certainly don’t.
  • Be present.  Kids don’t worry about the future.  They trust that everything will be okay.  They don’t waste energy worrying.  We can learn from them.
  • Be authentic. Kids don’t pretend to like people; so don’t you do that.  Genuinely learn about others and develop a friendship from that place.  We are more alike than we are different.

As a high school student, my Spanish teacher shared an old proverb that has remained with me over the years.  The proverb says, “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.”  May you and your friends be known as those who never “turned down” their authenticity.  Love others well and live authentically. Let people see you.  You are worth seeing.

So you must stop telling lies. “You must always speak the truth to each other,”because we all belong to each other in the same body. Ephesians 4:25 (ERV)

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