For almost all of us, it seems as though our childhood years are far behind us. As adults, certain words hold different meanings to us now than what they meant when we were kids.  For instance, MTV taught us “grown-ups” a crib is a cool house in addition to the baby bed we once slept in. The name Barney triggers the thought of the luxury department store Barney’s instead of a giant purple dinosaur.  The word playtime…well you can use your imagination on that one.

The point is, we’re not kids anymore.  However, that doesn’t mean we don’t still remember what it was like to be one.  For those readers who are parents, you’re the luckiest of the bunch because you get to live out your childhood again through your children, except you’re not the ones screaming this time (or maybe you are).

So while we may be adults(ish), there are still some traces of inner-children in all of us, or so we hope.  Here are 20 things children understand that we should do too.

1). They understand the fun in making a mess

When we were kids, making a mess was our specialty. It’s not that much has changed in that regard, but nowadays it’s way less acceptable than it used to be back then.  I can imagine the look of disbelief on my roommates faces if I tracked mud into our apartment and decorated our walls with crayon drawings.  It would be priceless to say the least, but not-so-excitingly followed by hours of “clean-up time.”

2). They know how to have fun by themselves

Sure, adults know how to have fun by themselves, but way less so than kids. As an only child growing up, I didn’t have siblings to entertain me while my parents worked.  However, I can’t say I was ever bored even when I was alone. After all, imagination counted for a lot in our youth. You could say I had a pretty wild one at that too.

3). They understand what it’s like to be shameless

Looking back on photos from my childhood, I often find myself horrified by some of the outfits my parents dressed me in.  From tapestry-style vests to ridiculous flowery hats, my sense of fashion back then would be laughable now.  Despite this fact, it didn’t phase me as a kid and likely doesn’t phase most kids today.  That is, of course, until they reach middle school. Parents, don’t let your children wear scratch and sniff t-shirts on their first day of sixth grade. Trust me, I would know.

4).They accept everyone

As a kid, the world is your friend.  Children have the amazing ability to see past looks and get straight to what matters.  As long as you’re willing to play with them, kids are pretty much down to hang out with anyone.  Nowadays, the percentage of people we’d actually hang out with is about a solid five percent out of everyone we know.

5). They can sense someone’s true nature

While kids seem to love everyone, they’re pretty perceptive too.  They can tell when someone doesn’t have the best intentions and are quick to pick up on falseness.  We may underestimate it at times, but kids know what’s up especially when their single parents were dating jerks *cough cough* Dad.

6). They speak their minds

In the adult world, we often have to fake niceness to seem amicable in certain situations.  Kids, on the other hand, have no problem speaking their mind. They’re honest to a fault, which is a great and terrible beauty.  It’s one thing when a kid says they hate one of their Christmas gifts, but it’s another when it’s the one you gave them.  Those moments are just embarrassing.

7). They know how to get what they want

With cuteness comes power.  Kids, in all their chubby-cheek charm, know how to exercise their adorableness to get what they want.  I mean, how can you deny a doe-eyed, giggly tiny person?  The answer is you can’t.

8). They realize the joy in the holiday season

Oh boy, don’t even get me started on the holidays.  To be fair, I loved them as a kid.  Christmas was the best time of the year and the Easter Bunny might as well have been my idol.  These days though, I dread the crowds Christmas brings to the malls, get terrible anxiety over picking gifts, and the Easter Bunny seems more like a giant demonic mascot than a thing of wonder. If only the holidays weren’t ruled by Hallmark and awkward family get-togethers, I think I, and every other adult for that matter, would feel differently.

9). They understand the magic of Disneyland

Disney ignites the same response as the holiday season for adults – anger, impatience, panic, disenchantment.  It’s sad, but so true.  Unless you are experiencing Disneyland with a child and feeling second-hand joy from their reaction, Disneyland isn’t as great as it seemed when we were kids.  Then again, I live for those Mickey-shaped PB & J’s. Those are magical.

10). They know their needs

I’m not saying adults don’t know their own bodily needs, but we definitely suppress them most the time.  From being hungry at work to waiting until we get home to go to the bathroom, adults exercise control over all their needs for better or worse.  However, kids are all about the “now.”  What I mean by that is when a kid has to go, they go. When a kid has to eat, they eat. They don’t wait around for their stomach to shrivel up or their bladders to explode. Kids just do, whether we like it or not.

11). They understand what it’s like to be gross and adorable all at once

Kids, even in their undeniable cuteness, can also be undeniably nasty. From noshing on boogers to drooling everywhere, children know how to make our skin crawl with their disgusting habits. That being said, there’s something weirdly adorable about a baby trying to eat your hair. I know I’d coo over that slobber any day.

12.) They feel all the frustrations in being handed the kid’s menu every time

When I was a kid, I hated being handed the kid’s menu at restaurants instead of the adult one.  Even when I was young, I always felt older than I was and wanted to be treated like it. Now, this may not be the case for all children, but I know at a certain point kids don’t want to be treated like kids anymore.  As long as they have an option, that’s all that matters.

13.) They know the horror of taking liquid and chewable medicine

The thought makes me cringe even as an adult.  The day I was finally able to start taking swallow-able pills was one of the best days of my life (I’m exaggerating but you get the point). Though it’s been awhile since I’ve had to take liquid or chewable medicine, I feel for all those children out there who don’t have the option of pills just yet.  Hang in their kids. Just keep chasing it down with Sprite and hope it doesn’t come up later.

14). They see everything in rose-colored glasses

In my eyes, kids are the eternal optimists of the world, until of course they grow older.  Everything they see and touch and visit entrances them into a blissful state of wonder.  Theme parks, costumed people, clowns – things that would normally send feelings of discomfort through some of us makes their eyes light up like no other.  What I wouldn’t give to see everything like children do again…

15). They understand innocence

As much as we all hate to admit it, there’s a sense of innocence lost when one becomes an adult.  While many of us try to keep our innocence about us, it’s incredibly difficult to do so in this day and age.  When surrounded by children though, I’d say a portion of our innocence returns in maintaining theirs.

16). They understand pure love

Not to go all sex-ed on everyone, but the idea of pure love pretty much tanked after puberty hit.  Unless you’re abstinent by choice (if you are, I commend you highly), the adult version of love, for the most part, involves mood lighting and romantic dinners followed by “dessert.”  When you’re a kid though, girls have cooties and boys are gross.  The birds and the bees don’t exist for these kiddies and that’s the way it should be.

17). They know what it’s like to be scolded

Okay, so to be fair, adults and children alike get scolded all the time.  The only difference is in the way we’re scolded now versus how we used to be scolded as children.  When we were kids, our parents put us in time out, spanked us, and told us “no” several times over.  As adults, our parents say I told you so, our bosses give us warnings for mistakes made on projects, and our romantic partners just yell at us to get their point across.  So it’s essentially the same, but I think I prefer the less passive-aggressive punishments I received as a kid.

18). They aren’t afraid to show weakness

Something about growing up forces us to develop a thicker skin.  If we trip, we get up and laugh it off.  If we’re rejected, we buy a bottle of wine.  But if kids trip, they cry; and if they get rejected, they’ll cry twice as hard in front of the one they liked.  It’s terrible to say, but adults are afraid of showing their weaknesses and for good reason.  Though I’d have to say, I value vulnerability over restraint any day.

19). They understand how to make people smile

How can you not smile when looking at a child?  All they have to do is take one look at you and you’re done for.  And those giggles they make, don’t even get me started.  I’m smiling just thinking about it.

20). They know what it’s like to be a tiny person that everyone loves

It’s hard not to love a child, especially after all the points made above, and they know it too.  They can tell in your smile, in the way you hold them, and kiss their cheeks.  They know we love them, but they also love us too.  After all, it’s our smile that makes them smile, our hugs that warm their hearts, and our kisses that let them know they’re never unloved when we’re around.