mehndiThis week my India-born critique partner submitted an engaging group of multicultural poems.

“Summer Paintings” featured three young girls decorating their palms in the mehndi tradition, embedding secrets in the scrolled henna designs—initials of boys and dreams and all the hushed longings of adolescence. Toward the end of the poem, the girls washed away the paste to reveal the designs. The next line, Finally freed from our impatience, caused debate among our group.

The girls in the poem had a wonderful time waiting for the henna to dry, for the patterns to stain their skin. They laughed and talked, giggled and blushed. Why were they impatient if they enjoyed the journey?

The answer? This is what childhood is about: impatient eagerness.

While children take pleasure in their activities, they are always rushing forward to the next thing. As a child, every experience is new. There is little time to let events soak in when there is something else to explore. They are motivated by an insatiable curiosity.

Moreover, children wish to repeat favorite experiences over and over again, and not soon enough. I’m reminded of this when my family leaves Chuck E. Cheese. Two seconds into the parking lot and my daughter pops like a balloon: “Mommy, when are we going to Chuck E. Cheese again?”

When writing, I will try to remember the impatient eagerness that my critique partner so eloquently showed.

Does your character display an impatient eagerness? What is next big thing for them?