In some ways, I’m a terrible adult. I still play with my imaginary friends, my first instinct is to buck responsibility and hide in my clubhouse (office), toy stores still delight me, and I have an odd fascination with Disney. I love to space out in front of video games and roll around with puppies. I watch more cartoons than I care to admit. Those are all very child-like things to do, yeah?
I started thinking about that last week, on my birthday. Along with having the Toys R Us theme song stuck in my head (thanks, Lauren, for pointing out that James Patterson actually penned the jingle for them) I had a wistfulness for before. Not my twenties, where I was thinner and more attractive. I’m talking, like, my tens. My elevens. I wanted to be a kid again but know what I know now. And I realized that’s stupid, because it totally defeats the purpose of being a kid.
So everyone’s seen this bullying thing on the news. It’s everywhere lately, like bullying is a new concept and we should be aware of all the terrible ways it abuses young psyches. Anyone who’s been to school /ever/ already knew about it, but public outcry has made it a topic du year. Okay, well, I’m on the train, bullying sucks. But you know why I think bullying happens? Kids don’t comprehend consequence. Not really. They might vaguely understand that doing something bad will get their PS3 taken away, or that Mom will yell until she gets her plum-colored face, but I don’t think they understand what bullying DOES to the other kid. They can’t wrap their minds around the big picture, and I’m not sure they’re actually capable of caring to the degree that they should. Empathy’s not quite . . . fully formed yet. In some kids, absolutely – I was a sensitive kid a lot of the time – but not in every kid. That’s something that comes with time.
And I think it’s that ignorance of the effects your carbon imprint has on the world around you that makes childhood seem so grand. It’s why stuff like bullying can happen. Kids don’t have to worry about their actions too much, and when they do, it’s not really about how they change the stars around them. Kids just do whatever random thing seems fun, whether that’s playing with Barbies, building couch-cushion forts, or calling Mrs. Linderman a fat-ass. Consequences are/were a vague thing looming over their heads, but not really defined. Not until Mom or Dad has their aneurysm anyway. And I think it’s not the age of ten I want back so much but that carefree bliss of doing and not having done back.
Which is a selfish desire, ain’t it?
Kind of a dick move really. Everyone wants to be carefree and responsibility free. But do I really wanna be ignorant to how I hurt or don’t hurt those around me? How my whining for hours on end would make my Mom snap, or how something mean I said made six kids laugh and one kid cry? Nah. I don’t really want that. It might be keen on a day that I have to pay six bills, take the dog to the vet, and paint my living room, but I sort of like my self-awareness. It’s comfortable. Even if it comes with a thirty-something age tag now.
That’s not going to change the Disney thing, though. Don’t ask me why. I really don’t know, but Splash Mountain is the best thing ever, so shut up.