This I Believe

Emily - Park Ridge, Illinois
Entered on January 26, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: children

Beanie Babies and Pokemon

For most of my life, I’ve refused to appreciate my age. I always wanted to get just a little bit older, thinking that somehow, if I tried hard enough, I could stop being the baby and catch up to the big kids. First, I wanted to start school. Then I wanted to move on to middle school, high school, and college. I wanted to turn twelve so I could stay home by myself. Then I wanted to turn sixteen so I could go out by myself. I couldn’t grow as fast as I wanted to.

As I started to look at colleges, I began to realize that the childhood I have been so impatient to discard is ending faster than I could ever have imagined. Suddenly, I am faced with the prospect of living on my own, perhaps even across the country from home. Finally, I have become a big kid.

And yet somehow, now, I can’t help but look back at being a little kid. I remember turning off every light in the house just to play hide-and-go-seek with flashlights. I remember flooding the entire backyard as we created the perfect water park with just a hose, a swing set, and some buckets. I remember setting my roasting marshmallows on fire and singing campfire songs. I remember being truly happy.

However, even as I happily reminisce, I can’t help but notice that many people in the world won’t look back upon a joyful childhood. There are so many children growing up in war zones, with memories of youthful exuberance punctuated by explosions and small arms fire. There are so many children without stable families, shuffled between foster homes or living with addicts. There are so many kids who don’t have the luxury of impatiently waiting to grow up, but rather are forced to mature before their time.

I believe that everyone deserves an innocent, carefree childhood. I believe that every kid deserves Lego’s, Fisher Price kitchens, and blanket tents. Every child should learn that jumping at just the right moment on an elevator makes them feel weightless and sticking a playing card in the spokes of their bicycle makes it sound like a Harley. Every kid should have a fort where they store all their special stuff. And they should know exactly how to place their thumb over the hose to make the water spray far enough to keep everyone else away. Every child should have parents that force them to wear not just a helmet, but wrist guards and knee pads, the first time they go rollerblading. Every kid should lay in their bed, worn out from the adventures of the day, but able to drift asleep because they know they are loved and safe. This, I believe.