Life Lessons From a Two Year Old by Carike Claassen

The rag-tag hippies crowd around the colourfully set table, talking and laughing. The food is delicious and the wildflower displays are gorgeous. The dress up party is the perfect excuse to be exactly who they are not for just a day – no strung out accountants, tired housewives, or menopausal executives are here today. Only a bunch of free spirits, every bit as colourful and artful as the wildflowers on the table, here to celebrate the impending nuptials of a good friend.

One of the party guests, oblivious to the first commandment when dealing with brides (Thou shalt not steal her thunder), cheerfully makes the rounds, babbling with the assorted guests, sampling the food and opening presents before the bride-to-be can get the chance to. This is no tired mother pretending to be something she’s not for a day; this is a free spirit incarnate, and everyone can tell.

On short, pudgy legs she stumbles from one pair of waiting arms to another. People cannot get enough of her. Everyone is jostling for the opportunity to spend some time with her, to tell her that she is special and beautiful. She smiles easily (albeit somewhat toothlessly) because she is absolutely secure in this knowledge. She knows that she is loved.

Today’s dress up party is no anomaly to her, either. It is her everyday reality. She completes an original artwork in no time flat, never stopping to think twice about what the critics will say about it or worrying at all about colouring between the lines – the concept is foreign to her. “And why shouldn’t a chicken be purple?” she seems to ask. Her complete confidence leaves you feeling like the crazy one for never even considering that this could be a possibility.

She curiously rummages around in whichever purse happens to be nearest on hand, giggling gleefully when she unearths a glistening pink treasure (“Strawberry lip gloss, methinks?”) then promptly proceeds to colour her face with it. Outside of the lines.
Huge brown eyes widen – impossibly – even more when the next treasure is revealed in an opened gift box: bubble wrap. It is attacked with enviable vigor and the sheer pleasure of the act is evident on her face – the eyes lit up with excitement, the dimples in the cheek. No worries here about trying to keep her cool or not letting everyone see how excited she is by this new discovery. “Can you believe this stuff? Isn’t it awesome? Isn’t it FUN?!!!”

At the end of the day, the hippies depart. They head home to shed their disguises and become harried accountants once again. They are certain to colour between the lines, and apply their lip gloss tastefully; in order to be beautiful.
The free spirit remains behind, cheerfully popping bubble wrap and drawing purple chickens.

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