Remember the delicious feeling you got as a child when you realized you had the opportunity to do something you weren’t normally allowed to do?
One of my favorite Cheers episodes is where Dr. Frazier Crane, the psychiatrists who can fix others’ issues, but is perpetually confused by his own, finds himself unencumbered by his icy wife, Lilith. When his bar buddies ask him what he’s going to do, he has an epiphany. He’s going to break free – he’s going to RUN WITH SCISSORS! – and proceeds to grab a pair of scissors and run top speed around the bar, hair flying with a maniacal grin on his face. It’s brilliant.
Where did we as adults lose this sensation? Somewhere along the way we were taught that adults can do anything they want. As children we dreamed of the day we were “adult” enough to choose to do anything our little minds dreamed up. Sometimes it was as simple as staying up late to watch Johnny Carson – or Saturday Night Live! Sometimes it was the opportunity to walk by ourselves to the corner store. Sometimes it was the fantasy of going to college and moving away from home. But now nothing’s stopping us — we ARE adults – but we are less excited by new and daring ideas and opportunities than a child is – and that’s unfortunate.
Life has taken the collective scissors away from us. Mortgages, kids, jobs, divorces and responsibilities put the scissors in time out. We’ve left behind the feeling of taking a risk and we are teaching our children to be timid with their dreams. Instead of challenging them to work through an idea, solve a problem, create, we tell them how it can’t be done. We solve the problem for them. We tell them to color the sun yellow and reward them for coloring inside the lines. We fail our children this way.
Great ideas and creations do not come from limits. Harry Truman once said, “I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” Try it. See where their minds take you – it’s usually an extraordinary journey. Put the scissors in their hands. You will get a pair in return.