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My friend Louise recently pointed out how I'm always saying I enjoy doing a thing because it makes me feel like a kid again.

Not that I actually want to step inside Mr. Peabody's WABAC Machine and relive my childhood. I don't. People with selective memories may think childhood is a carefree time, but I'm pretty clear on the downside of being a kid — the fears, the dependence on others, the inability to articulate how you feel because your skill with language is still limited.

On the other hand, I also remember the pure rush I felt whenever I sprinted across the grass barefoot or slept outside on a summer night or screamed down the street on my bike. And doing those things now — even though I'm old — still makes me feel that way.

So I've floated the question to friends — what makes them feel like a kid again — and here are some of their answers.

Swinging in the park. Lying on the grass at night and looking at the stars. Swimming at night. Swimming in real water — "the kind of lake water that turns your swimming suit green." Riding a horse bareback. Without shoes on.

Drawing pictures on the sidewalk with chalk. Finger painting. Watercoloring. Coloring inside the lines. Coloring outside the lines. Coloring with 64 crayons on a stack of paper. Dancing in the rain — naked. Building stuff out of Legos. Shooting a Nerf gun. Climbing trees. Building blanket forts. Having a water fight.

Running through sprinklers. Lighting sparklers. Listening for the ice cream truck. Watching "I Love Lucy." Backpacking. Eating vegetables straight out of the garden.

Playing catch. Playing hopscotch. Or jump-the-rope. Or jacks. Playing "Miss Mary Mack" with an 8-year-old. Or Polly Pockets with a granddaughter. Or Candyland. Or the Game of Life. Or Red Rover, Red Rover. Or kick-the-can. Or old-school Nintendo (especially the first Mario Brothers).

Seeing shapes in clouds. Taking naps. Reading old favorites like a picture book by Bill Peet or a Nancy Drew mystery. Roller-skating. Skateboarding. Riding a motorcycle. Or a cruiser without a helmet. Listening to "Bye-bye, Miss American Pie." Going on a hike. Or to a baseball game. Putting on a catcher's mitt.

Yelling at refs. Doing cartwheels. "Walking the tightrope" on street curbs. Blowing bubbles. Flying kites. Listening to rain fall on the roof of a camper. Streaking down a Slip 'N Slide. Skiing. Tubing. Building a snowman. Having a snowball fight.

Eating scones and honey butter. Or a tuna noodle casserole. Or ice cream cones. Or two ice cream cones from McDonald's — without using napkins. Eating snow cones. Or Otter Pops. Or Popsicles. Or cotton candy. Or disgusting kid candy like gummy worms and Gobstoppers. Or pouring dry Jell-O straight onto your tongue.

Eating watermelon on the front porch — or waving at friends and playing games on the front porch.

Riding on a roller coaster. Or a merry-go-round. Jumping on a trampoline. Skipping. Playing tag or doing the Hula-Hoop. Going to the state fair and finding the biggest animal there. Driving home with the car windows down and the radio blasting. Driving aimlessly with friends. Writing a short story starring you and your friends.

Building a sandcastle. Rolling down hills. Playing Marco Polo in a swimming pool. Ziplining. Skinning your knee.

(I suppose shoplifting cigarettes from the convenience store by your junior high school could make you feel like a kid again, too. But hopefully we're all past that now.)

So what makes YOU feel like a kid?

Ann Cannon can be reached at or

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