This I Believe

Lexy - Healdsburg, California
Entered on March 20, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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The Days of Swing Sets and Sandboxes

I used to sit at home with my five tubs of different colored Playdough and mold magic shapes. I could make the orange man have seven eyes and give his green dog three tails. But, just as I was the ruler of my Playdough’s future, it seems someone else is in control of mine.

Remember those blissful days on the playground when the swings were an open door that flung wide open to the world, and a sandbox was a magic land of its own begging to be crafted into castles with deep, masterful moats. I can recall a time when a skinned knee seemed like the greatest tragedy because it meant missing a day of play outside, but it healed quickly with a mother’s kiss and an Elmo band-aide. Yes, I remember a time before the homework, applications, tests, and stress when my teddy bear was my best friend and the world was nothing but beautiful.

I believe this world expects us to grow up too fast. Everyone begins like flower eager to grow, but people, adults, keep forcing us to grow taller, bigger, faster. We compromise growing for beauty with soft, carefully shaped petals by growing for productivity and measuring our success by the height of our stem and not the beauty of our flower. My stem started growing more than my flower one day in elementary school when my teacher scolded me for too much play and told me to focus on my spelling and math. It continued to grow when my junior high teacher pushed me to excel because it would help my college future. And each day in high school I work on homework for hours and have forgotten that sweet feeling of simply reading for pleasure under the shade of my cherry tree. My flower has grown tall, but it lacks those pretty, vibrant petals that once shaped a heart innocent of the world.

But this world will not be changed today, and my days in the sandbox and on the playground have come and gone, yet there is great hope. As people push me to grow taller, I find myself pushing back. I am now striving for a beautiful flower rather than a tall stem. I am standing here to say that childhood sweetness only graces us once, so nothing should take it away. Let us be doctors, lawyers, grocers, and one day parents, but let us enjoy those sweet year while we can. Allow our flowers to bloom.