Flamingoes are yuck

A flock of flamingos stand out in front of a dark background. Piqsels

In defence of dancing down the street, and other childish pursuits

by hila smith, Contributor

If you’ve lived in my neighbourhood, you might have seen me dancing down the street, twirling around the dog’s leash, humming along to whatever music I had queued up.

Half the people in my college town probably thought I was out of my mind.

It’s worth it.

The older I get and the more settled I feel in the contours of my life, the more I want to throw myself into ridiculous, childish things whenever I can.

Yes, I WILL dance – badly – because it’s so much more fun than walking, and I don’t care who knows I’m having fun. Yes, I DO want to go down that slide, watch that cartoon, put ALL the sprinkles on my baking, splatter that paint, wear clashing colours and mismatched socks.

I’m setting out to capture that brazen, wide-eyed excitement about the little things we act like only kids should have.

And who’s it hurting?

Growing up, when I should have enjoyed these things the first time around, I let myself get taken in by this weird sort of shame – that growing up is good, so acting young is bad.

I was five when I realized Winnie the Pooh was for kids, and immediately decided I hated everything about it. I went from watching it every Saturday morning to never playing that VHS again.

At my junior school library, I got told off for reading an awesome book that was tagged as fifth-grade level – when I was in fifth grade.

I tried, and mostly failed, to style myself after the adult women I knew; dignified women, who people respected, who would be listened to and trusted and could get what they wanted when they argued for it.

And while I do enjoy the respect I get now as an adult, I have to say dignity is overrated.

When someone would catch me dancing or playing on the climbing gym in the park after dark, I used to feel the need to justify it.

“I have a job, I pay my taxes – so what if I’m currently hanging upside-down on the monkey bars?”

But now, I think that’s missing the point.

Enjoying this sort of childish fun isn’t something that you “earn” by hitting these milestones of adult life, and it’s not something that needs to be justified at all. It’s just, on its own, a sweet and good thing in the world.

During the pandemic, I’ve been spending a lot of time hanging out with an autistic woman. C. is in her 20s, like me, and she’s a big fan of these sorts of things too.

She loves the Toy Story movies, Mickey Mouse, VeggieTales, and, of course, Winnie the Pooh, and she’ll watch her DVDs on repeat every day.

She’s a huge fan of everything pink, especially flamingoes – except for eating (“What’s for dinner?” Flamingoes?” Flamingoes are yuck!” is a joke she particularly likes to tell.)

These days, when we go out on walks, she’s twirling her orange jump rope while I skip with my blue one.

C. doesn’t have a job, and she doesn’t do her own taxes – and she’s no less an adult than I am, no less worthy of respect and consideration. The ways we choose to enjoy the world don’t take away from that.

So, if you’re staring at me while I’m grinning and skipping and twirling down the street, watch out – I might well ask you to join in for a spin.

Life’s just better when you’re dancing.

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