I am 30-years-old and by pretty much anyone’s measure, I’m a grown-up.
I am a mother and a wife. I pay tax. I drive a car. I’m writing a book. I drink coffee. I own shares. I floss. I watch Insiders. I have an accountant. I even remember to put the recycling out in time for bin collection night…
And last week I laughed so hard at a joke about burps that I tested the very limits of my pelvic floor.
I was at the the Princes Theatre in Melbourne to see Tim Minchin’s musical, Matilda (which is based on the book of the same name by the late, great children’s author Roald Dahl). Matilda tells the story of a 5-year-old girl with awful parents, who loves to read and develops magic powers which she then uses to teach nasty grown-ups the lessons they deserve.
Matilda the Musical. Post continues after video…
The musical has been a hit on Broadway and the West End. And it’s been applauded for how cleverly the novel has been translated from page to stage. The choreography is childlike, the music enchanting, the lyrics in equal parts ridiculous and sweet and there is adorable child cast whose talent is off the hook.
At least, that’s what you’d read on the show’s poster blurb.
But the truth of this show is far more than that.
It took me back to the joy, the silliness and the wonder of childhood. Instead of enjoying Matilda through the critical, unbelieving eyes of an adult, I felt like another child member of the audience. That rare sensation of being transported totally and utterly into someone else’s world began with the opening number and remained until the final curtain call.
It’s rare that we get to fully relinquish the pressures and responsibility of adulthood. And I don’t know about you but when I do get that opportunity I tend to fill it with very adult indulgences. I want a glass of red wine at the end of the day, I read the newspaper at the cafe when I’m child-free, I have a spare half hour on Sunday and think “great, I’ll get through an extra load of washing”, a baby-sitter means my husband and I can have dinner at a fancy restaurant…
And that leaves little or no time for the indulgence of simple joys.
The elation that comes from finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Do you remember the first time you saw snow? Or an occasion when your bicycle wheels spun so fast down the hill that you couldn’t even keep your feet on the pedals? How about the thrill of sleeping over at a friend’s place on a school night? Or the last time you ate chocolate without thinking about the calories? Do you recall that perfect smell of a brand new set of fancy drawing pencils?
Can you still do a cartwheel? I’m pretty sure that I can’t.
But having said that, I also haven’t tried…
There is a line in my favourite Matilda song ‘When I Grow Up’, that has stuck with me every day since the show. It’s performed while the children are seated on giant rope swings that fly out over the audience. It goes like this:
And when I grow up
I will have treats every day.
And I’ll play with things that mum pretends
that mums don’t think are fun.
I’m not sure that I pretend those things aren’t fun.
But I have forgotten how much fun they can be.
At some point in the last few years I firmly adjusted my fun dial to ‘adult’ and in doing so, I started missing out on many opportunities for happiness. Along with desensitising me to the obscene and the horrible, adulthood somehow desensitised me to the littlest things that used to bring me joy.
I suspect that I’m not alone in that and if you’re in the same position, then it’s definitely time for a reset.
Because you know?
Bin night comes around every week and burps really are funny.