Oh, Charlie: How Living With a Kid Has Changed My Perspective
I don’t particularly like kids. I got to a certain age and decided I didn’t want to go to musicals anymore and I also didn’t want to spend time with tiny people who are a terrible combination of annoying, dependent, and hyper. When I found a Workaway in Italy that worked with my schedule, I must’ve pretended I didn’t see that they had a 7-year-old boy. I purposefully only contacted Workaway hosts that didn’t have kids or needed help with childcare.
Alas, I arrived at Ruth and Steve’s house on a Thursday night. Steve and Charlie (the 7-year-old boy) were already in bed. I enjoyed some wine and cheese with Ruth, made smalltalk and pretended that I was wildly excited to meet Charlie in the morning. “He’s really excited to meet you,” Ruth told me. “Aww, sweet. I cannot wait to meet him!” I replied. It was a lie, because like I said, I don’t like kids. And I assumed Charlie being excited to meet me meant I would come down in the morning and he would be hiding behind his parent’s leg in silence until he finally creeped out to show me his boogers or something.
I awoke the next morning and came down to see Ruth, Steve, and Charlie sitting around the breakfast table with an open spot just for me. “Oh god, oh god,” I repeated in my head. “Here we go.” I was prepared to talk about The Lego Movie and What The Fox Say, my only true connection to children. “Good morning,” I said nervously, as I took my seat. And then Charlie spoke. He spoke in the cutest goddamn little British accent you ever did hear. “Good Morning! I’m Charlie!” K. Forget everything I said about kids.
The British accent obviously helps, but Charlie’s just a pretty awesome kid. He’s not only made me rethink my hatred towards kids, but he’s inspired me to be a better person. Every time he teeters on being an annoying 7-year-old, he says something so outrageously witty that I can’t help but love the little guy.
Charlie on my back
Charlie + Pup
I started this post months ago when I was still staying at Ruth and Steve’s. I just found it in my unfinished posts and it was pretty bittersweet to read. I’ve barely talked to any of them since I left, besides a couple email exchanges.
Like most of my trip, staying with a 7-year-old was just a tiny fragment of time that came and went and I now barely even think about. I’m glad I brought this blog back to life so I can reflect on some of these really awesome moments that, even if I don’t acknowledge them every day, helped evolve and define who I am post-trip.
Charlie taught me that not all kids suck. He taught me to appreciate simple things. He taught me that drawing after dinner every night can feel much more relaxing and fulfilling than binge-watching TV. He taught me that spending a Saturday exploring the woods with your dogs, picking flowers, and kicking around a soccer ball (eh…football), can be just as rewarding, if not more, as “getting tons of work done.”
Drawing with Charlie
Flowers I picked with Charlie
Ruth and Steve taught me that waiting until you’re a bit older to have kids is not a bad thing and is definitely a path I am more interested in taking. They taught me patience, because no matter how good your kid is, he’s still a kid. And they taught me what my dad’s been telling me since I was little- the best way to treat a kid is to treat them as your equal. Talk to them with respect. Don’t be condescending. Hear them out. Listen, because they probably have a fresher perspective of the world.
In a world where there’s daily, atrocious news being shoved down our throats, sometimes you just need to hear a tiny British kid say the word “nappy” followed by 1,000 giggles for everything to seem okay.