How to Regain Childlike Wonder


The New Jersey crew is on an epic cross-country road trip—six grandkids and two parents in an eight-passenger van—visiting family in Iowa, Utah, California, Oregon, Idaho.

And I’ve been re-experiencing the wonders of the Wild Wild West through their eyes.

Photo: Summer Conn

Last weekend we were at my bro- and sis-in-law’s ranch in northern California. There was the excitement of riding in the back of a Rhino, an all-terrain vehicle. Standing up. And with no seatbelt. Imagine.

The fascination over young calves with their ridiculously exquisite eyelashes.

The rewarding work of helping with the cows. (We might not have been that much help … actually, we were no help at all.)

In addition to all the outdoor adventure, there was indoor awesomeness.

One afternoon, my sister-in-law made sugar cookies. The Littles slathered them with blue frosting, and scattered way too many sprinkles on top, and experienced more joy than ought to be legal.

Next stop: Large vacation log cabin near my hometown in Oregon.

Friends from Seattle (who were in Uganda the same time as SIL Josh & Daughter Summer, adopting children from the same orphanage) joined us with their brood.

Ten kids in all.

You can imagine the burbling laughter, rampant pandemonium, unrestrained joy.

One of the things I love about children is their childlikeness.

Did you know that being more childlike can actually provide better quality of life? This from René Proyer, a psychologist at the University of Zurich, in an article entitled “What Playfulness Can Do for You”:

“People who exhibit high levels of playfulness—those who are predisposed to being spontaneous, outgoing, creative, fun-loving, and lighthearted—appear to be better at coping with stress, more likely to report leading active lifestyles, and more likely to succeed academically.”

So, how does an adult regain his/her wonder and childlikeness (not to be confused with childishness)?

I’m glad you asked. Here are 46 things I’ve absolutely enjoyed doing with my grandkids that brought on the unrestrained joy of a child:

  1. Build blanket tents over the living room furniture
  2. Read books by flashlight in blanket tents
  3. Decorate gingerbread houses
  4. Feed the ducks
  5. Blow bubbles
  6. Go barefoot
  7. Go ice-skating
  8. Visit candy shoppes
  9. Visit ice cream parlors
  10. Go swimming
  11. Go stand-up paddle boarding
  12. Row a boat
  13. Visit museums (favorite: Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum)
  14. Visit aquariums
  15. Visit zoos
  16. Picnic outdoors
  17. Bake cookies
  18. Eat chocolate chips while baking cookies
  19. Hold hands and hug and kiss
  20. Dance
  21. Shoot hoops
  22. Play baseball
  23. Visit Disney World
  24. Fly kites
  25. Run from waves
  26. Build a bonfire
  27. Roast marshmallows
  28. Collect seashells
  29. Explore tide pools
  30. Play Monopoly
  31. Make up rules
  32. Make up games
  33. Walk dogs
  34. Ride bicycles
  35. Try not to fall off a skateboard
  36. Go bowling
  37. Carve jack-‘o-lanterns
  38. Draw and paint and color
  39. Put together puzzles
  40. Read books — the sillier, the better — and then read more books
  41. Talk with animals
  42. Climb trees
  43. Climb a mountain
  44. Do nothing
  45. Have pillow fights
  46. Fall down and get up again

The Teens got to experience new wonders on this visit to the Wild Wild West, as well.

Like, mastering stand-up paddle boarding.

Driving a Rhino.

And driving a four-wheeler (I rode on the back of a four-wheeler with the Boy Teen driving, hair flying, holding on for dear life through uncontrollable laughter).

It was Socrates who said: “Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”

May we lose any jadededness, hardness, bitterness, and reclaim our wonder, our glee, our childlikeness.