Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air…
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
I rode the train with a terrible child the other day. She must’ve been about 3, maybe 4, possibly 8 (I’m awful at guessing pre-pubescent ages). She crawled all over the seats, loudly screaming to no one in particular, and rolled around on the filthy floor and into commuters’ legs and briefcases. Her mother sat complacently, not unaware of her daughter’s wildness, but choosing to ignore: reading Us Weekly, soft smile.
Normal people might scoff or roll their eyes and the apparent ineptitude of the grown-up in charge: “She should control her kid,” we might say. I’ve never considered a kid’s wildness the parental defect; instead, I have high expectations for the 3-8 year olds of the world. My aggravation focuses on the child’s disregard for the Rules of Living in Society. It took a lot for me not to grab the wild one by the shoulders, look into her big eyes, and howl, “What’s wrong with you?! Have you no consideration for others? Don’t you know how to function in a public arena?” Unrealistic to reason in this way with a very young child, I’m not sure. I suppose this reveals more about me and my lack of child-rearing capabilities than anything else.
Somewhere between age 3 and now (whatever age your “now” is), we lose our wildness. I suppose it’s a shame. What that wild child showed me the other day was wild innocence. And after quite a bit of reflection, I came to this conclusion: wildness is okay. No one was wronged or injured. A city kid, probably one with limited access to nature and open space, got to be a kid on a subway train. And I (lucky me) got to be witness to this wild innocence, a wildness that has since inspired me to cultivate some wildness this June. I think I’ll even have a coconut popsicle for dinner tonight! Wild, right?