To be a Child
As I sit reflecting my life over the past eighteen years I am reluctant to say when I left childhood and became an adult. It’s been a gradual process. It didn’t happen overnight of my eighteenth birthday waking up to be a quote unquote legal adult.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be older than I actually was. As a five year old, I told people I was seven. I think that’s what happens when you are the youngest in your family. I wanted to fit in with my siblings. I wanted to stay up late and go to school dances. I watched and observed how they got to drive and have privileges that I was not entitled too just yet. I wished upon the stars that I would become what they were, a grown up. And now, facing life as an adult, I want to go back.
I remember the first time I was home alone. I was in fifth grade. Coming home from school to an empty house, I panicked. Frantically calling my mom and asking where everyone was, she informed me that she was running errands and would be home in less than an hour. I sat on her bed, clenching the phone to my chest. Reassuring myself that everything would be okay, I found the remote for the TV and found something to watch. I remember counting down the minutes, but with each passing one I realized it wasn’t so bad. I could do this.
The teen years are an awkward stage, especially the early teens. It’s almost like straddling a line. The right side of you is trying to be that grown up, but without being able to drive or date or have a job it’s hard. Leaving the left side stranded in childhood.
I was in sixth grade when I had my first “boyfriend”. He was adorable and I remember the first time I saw him I was weak in the knees. I rarely saw him outside of school, but those Friday nights I did, my heart went all floppy and I was ecstatic. And suddenly, on a cold winter night, I was left broken hearted. I had never felt such an emotion until then and I didn’t like it. It was the first time I had to face an emotional pain.
It’s an interesting feeling growing up. I haven’t decided if I like it much, I’ll get back to you on that. Suddenly, Santa Claus is our parents and all that we knew to be true on the matter is false. Bedtimes are lifted and curfews are extended until one day they both vanish and it’s up to us to go to bed at an adequate time.
The day I got my driver’s license was one I’ll never forget. I had to wait until Monday morning; bright and early my mom and I went down to the DMV. I signed some papers, took a picture and was handed a temporary copy. I slid it in my wallet, where the clear slot finally became useful to me. That moment finally came; I was the only one in the car. I was a licensed driver. Taking myself to school, I listened to John Mayers “Continuum” album. I had the desire to hold my keys in my hand walking into first period so that everyone could see, Annie could finally drive. It changed the way I socialized in dramatic ways. No longer did I have to ask for a ride home or have a parent come pick me up. I came and went from school as I pleased and spent every lunch hour in the comfort of my own kitchen. And when my real license arrived in the mail just a few days later, I celebrated like it was Christmas.
The first couple of steps into adulthood were thrilling. I couldn’t wait to take another and another, but as they got more frequent, I became hesitant. I started looking back at my childhood and what it gave to me. I missed the days of grass stains on my knees and jam glued to my face. Suddenly, it wasn’t acceptable to play “Barbies” or “house”. I missed the innocence mind I once had. I didn’t understand the concept of war and hatred. I was happy with two quarters in my left hand and a sucker in my right. The world was huge and I endless dreams at my fingertips, and the sad thing is, those dreams have slowly fizzled into what I call reality with no hope of achieving them.
I almost felt a glimpse of the inner child the night before. It was a day I longed for, for thirteen years. The dress was ironed and hanging on my closet door waiting the next morning. I, with hundreds of others my age anxiously sat as we heard our fellow classmates speak. It was at that moment, when they said Annie Lawrence and I posed in front of overly sized white “G” that I truly had become a high school graduate. Holding onto every emotion on the spectrum, I soaked it in. One door was closing and a new one was opening. I was ready to face the world.
I often find myself sifting through previous junk- I may be a pack rat of memories. Grasping my Little Miss Lindon crown in my hand I am reminded of the year I spent serving others and building a float. Rummaging through family photographs whisks me away to our summers in Lake Powell with the water surrounding my thoughts. Walking through the halls of an elementary school, I am shrunken down to a third grader coming in from recess with a bright red face gasping for air. It’s these moments that I can relive and hold onto that bring me to believe that the adult I am today is because of what I experienced as a child.
I would like to think that I’m still that five year with pig tails and dimples larger than my actual face just in a grown up body. There will be a part of me that will never grow up into the adult that I once wished to be.