Tattoos, Pizza & The 5-Year-Old

 “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Matthew – 19:14

I love kids.  Although I don’t have children of my own, I’ve always enjoyed hanging around with little people who haven’t yet been jaded by life.

And kids love me too.  A friend once commented it’s because most children are taller than me and they think I’m one of them.

So, when the opportunity to spend an entire day with a friend’s 5-year-old daughter recently presented itself, I was delighted.

Oh, who am I kidding? I was scared to death.

Her mom’s instructions were simple.  Buy her a new bathing suit and get her a tattoo.  Kids come with weird instructions, I thought.  What, no skydiving?

I’d heard that keeping a child’s stomach full is the key to keeping them happy and keeping the grownups sane.

So before venturing out on our adventure, I put together a cooler with the bare essentials:

A pound of fruit, 4 ham and cheese rollups, 4 turkey and cheese rollups, gatorade, coke, apple juice, a bag of Oreos, a bag of chocolate chip cookies, 2 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit rollups, fruit cocktail, 8 chicken wings, 8 chicken drumsticks, 2 chicken thighs, 1 chicken breast and a pack of gum thrown in for good measure.  I’m forgetting something.  Oh, right, a protein bar and a bottle of water for me.

I figured this would hold us over until dinner.

The rest of the day went like this … buy bathing suit, pee, eat, go to beach, pee, eat, build sandcastle, pee, eat, go in ocean, pee, eat, pretend a monster had eaten half the fruit, pee, eat, jump in the waves …

“I think I’m going to poop in my pants,” said the child with no filter.  All the eating and exercise were kicking in.

That was my cue to start packing up to leave.

Next stop: Dinner

Her mom had told me that the day before the 5-year-old had announced that she wanted tacos.  So, off we went in search of tacos.

“I want pizza,” she said as we pulled up in front of Tijuana Flats.

Somehow I was able to convince her that quesadillas were just like pizza.

A huge taco later — because halfway into the restaurant her craving for what looked very much like a soiled baby’s diaper returned — we still had the tattoo to cross off our list.  Thankfully, the kids meal at Tijuana Flats included a tattoo.

One more stop to go … Cold Stone Creamery.  It’s there the 5-year-old figured out that as long as she kept saying she didn’t like a flavor, she could keep getting free samples.  Twelve samples later …

“I don’t want ice-cream,” she said.

Nine hours after our adventure began, I delivered my small friend back home safe and sound where she happily put on an impromptu fashion show to model her new bathing suits. That’s right, suits. Because one suit is never enough when you’re a 5-year-old diva.

It had been a day of nothing but the sheer joy of living in the moment.  No “to do” list to worry about.  Taking each moments as it came.  Doing whatever presented itself — like performing cartwheels in the middle of a tent on the beach.  As if the Universe had set it up just for her to play in.

Who needed a trainer or a guru?  I had just had the best physical and spiritual workout of my life.

As I pulled my sand-covered red car out of my friend’s driveway, I said a silent prayer of thanks for the 5-year-old who had taught me by example that life is a playground to be enjoyed.

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