The Magic of Being a Kid

It was super tough for me to grow up.

I think a lot of kids wanted to be adults so they didn’t have to listen to their parents and so they could drive cars and eat candy for dinner and never have to clean their room. These things all sounded amazing to me too, but I’m talking about the young-kid to older-kid phase. When you had to stop playing with your toys and start interacting with others, because that’s when they ruined things like telling you there was no Santa Claus and making you believe that whatever you thought was wrong and that you played pretend incorrectly. I don’t know. Maybe I was just friends with assholes.

I just remember feeling ripped apart when I was younger. Being forced to leave this land of ultimate make-believe to join the cruel reality where other people had opinions and rules and knowing I’d never be as free as I was when I could play alone with Barbies in my closet. Does that sound wrong? Or strange? It probably does because most people like being around others, right? And I do too, but I’m also really good at enjoying solitude. It’s like, one of my favorite places. Like now, Batman’s out of town for the weekend and I’m all by myself. And even though I miss looking up from typing to see him yelling at the TV because whatever video game he’s playing is glitching or not obeying his controller commands (I don’t know—he gets very hulkish when he plays his X-Box One) I’m still enjoying the quiet. I miss him, but this isn’t terrible either. This little space in the world is mine. All mine. And I may not be in my closet turning shelves into mountains and Barbies into heroines of great adventures, but I can still tap into that ultimate freedom I had to give up when they put me on the playground and told me to play nice. I’m not sure if any of this makes sense. It probably doesn’t.

My good friend Seattle introduced me to a new blog, Hyperbole and a Half, last week. She’s also the one who told me about The Hunger Games and The Bloggess so I know I can trust her when she recommends something. So I’ve been pouring over this blog on every break and lunchtime that comes available to me. And a lot of her entries reference her childhood and how she rationalized different things that happened. So it got me thinking about my own childhood. How did I enjoy it? DID I enjoy it? Parts of it, yes. Parts of it sucked. Like the transitioning from “oh she’s just a kid, let her enjoy it” to “you’re not a kid anymore. Grow up.” That part really sucked.

I like being an adult—I do. I can eat cereal for dinner and leave my nail polish on the coffee table as long as I damn well please. I can have four glasses of wine and stay up as late as I want and call in sick when I’m really just writing. I can procrastinate doing my laundry and lie in bed all day and see a movie on a Tuesday night if I feel like it. I can make my own life decisions. All these things make me an adult, right? Well good, I’m here. I’ve made it. But sometimes—every once in a while—I miss that early part of childhood, before responsibility falls and your age is an excuse to tell the world to fuck off because you still believe in the tooth fairy and under-the-bed monsters and giant rabbits that deliver eggs every April. It’s that time when anything can exist and it does because the world hasn’t polluted you with reality yet.

You know what I’m talking about. And once that wonderful bubbled illusion pops, you’re never the same. You’re forever locked out of the gate with everyone else, only to stare longingly at how happy you were, wondering how you lived in such blissful ignorance. And the rest of the world meanders away but you can’t go. You just want back in. You want to be reinserted so you stand there gripping the gate rods, knowing that the longer you’re on the outside, the further back in your memory it’ll recede. And you’re afraid you might not remember what it was like.

You’ll forget the magic of being a kid.

Do you remember this place? Remember when the candle went out and the florescent light went on? Was it hard for you? Or did it come naturally, because you always wanted to play with the other kids rather than sit alone in your closet with tubs full of Barbies that were just characters waiting to have their adventures unfold? It was difficult for me.

What about you?