My Inner Child
I believe in the child in each of us. As children, life seems simple and uncomplicated. Fun can be found at every turn along the way. But somewhere on the path to adulthood, simplicity seems to vanish, and life grows a little more complicated with each passing day.
I remember back in 1983, I rode in the car alongside my best friend and her older sister. I was ten, my friend was eleven, and her older sister…well, she could drive. I had no worries that day. We rode in the car with the windows down, and it didn’t matter that the wind blew our hair into knots. The sun was hot, and there was no air-conditioning, so we just wiped the sweat from our brows and kept singing along to the radio.
Then the radio announcer’s voice strained against the road noise to inform us we had just been rocking to “Electric Avenue” by Eddy Grant. I don’t remember what the announcer said next. I only remember hearing something about the future and the year 2000. My friend and I giggled and talked excitedly about how cool the year 2000 would be. Then we quickly worked the math to determine how old we would be when that fabulous year rolled around. That is when my heart sank. I had worked the math twice, and was certain that I would be twenty-seven. I knew twenty-seven was much too old to have fun. As children, my friends and I were always eager to play, to laugh, and to enjoy the moment right before us; free of worry and oblivious to the troubles that occupied our parents’ minds.
I realized at that moment there was a fundamental difference between adults and children. I wasn’t quite sure why or how this change came about; I only knew it did. As a child, it did not matter how tightly I tied the laces on my shoes. The day’s adventures were certain to deposit a fair amount of sand inside my shoes anyway. It was also certain that my mother was going to be unhappy when I emptied the sand onto the clean kitchen floor. To me the adventures were important. To my mother, the sandy floor that now needed cleaning added only one more task to be completed before the end of an already hectic day. To me the word child was synonymous with fun and freedom. The word adult was synonymous with work and worry. I vowed to always hold onto my childhood.
The year 2000 has come and gone. Within its passing can be found my marriage, the birth of my child, and my divorce. Plenty of worries have also found their way into my mind with each passing year.
Fast forward to the year 2008. I’m sitting in my car waiting for the light to turn green. It’s taking too long. I’m in a hurry, as I have much work to complete before the end of this already hectic day. Though the day is warm, I grumble while I keep my window tightly shut against the BOOM-BOOM from the young man’s stereo who waits in line behind me.
Finally the light changes, and as I pull away from the intersection, I am hit by a ton of bricks. No, I haven’t been hit by another car. I have been hit by the realization that I have lost my inner child. You see, at that moment, I see the little old man from the corner store smiling gleefully while he kicks a tin can along the walk; a childhood game long forgotten. I then remember the vow I made to myself as a child so many years before. The vow I have broken. In the process of day to day living, I have indeed become an adult, but tomorrow…I will kick the can.
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