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  • Writer's pictureSydney McCall Patel

Bringing Forth The Wild Child

Updated: Feb 17, 2023


by Sydney McCall Patel, Marriage and Family Therapist, Marin County, California

There are times when it feels like my family is just trying to get through the day. Between working and scheduled appointments, it can seem there’s no room to step out of the mundane and into the realm of wonder and wildness. And yet my favorite memories as a child are of rainy days where time stood still as I became soaked in mud, adventuring down creeks in our woods. Coming home filthy meant I got to be free that day.

One evening, almost a year ago, after I thought my son had fallen asleep he came out of his bedroom crying hysterically. It was the first time I had seen him upset seemingly unprovoked and my stomach churned not knowing the cause. With tears filling his eyes he said, “I don’t wanna grow up.” My heart momentarily capsized into a well of sadness. I wanted to understand what he witnessed about adulthood that upset him so I helped him to investigate. He said he didn’t want to cook, clean, or work, and that he wanted to keep playing ALL the time. And in that moment I immediately understood his sentiments.

As a parent, I’m constantly thinking about my responsibilities both at work and at home. I can get so bogged down by trying to keep everything together I forget the most memorable days are never tidy, but instead filled with adventure and letting go. I know that wild kid is still inside of me bursting to get dirty, and if I can get my grown-up thoughts out of the way and follow my son’s lead, then I can feel the magic with him.

The best part about when I can remember to do this is that my kid and I get to bond hard. And I also think it positively impacts his perception of growing up so he is hopefully inspired rather than disillusioned. On top of it, we get to feel into the part of ourselves that’s untamed which lights us up and gives us the energy to actually do the clean up.

Sometimes, I need to actually wake up to see that adventure is right in front of me. We live in a beautiful place, Marin county, where nature is all around us. In just a flash of a moment, if I can remember to look for it, I can go from being bored to feeling totally alive. And when I am open to seeing something perceptibly mundane as exquisite, as if through the eyes of my son, then everything around me holds potential for magic. I hope that one day he turns to me and tells me all the reasons why he will never have to stop playing, and that I can remember to keep turning to him, knowing that he is my teacher.


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