Sitting under the hot summer sun, having nothing better to do with our day, my cousin and I filled a kiddy pool with water and waded and splashed all day long until night set when we waited for the glow of fireflies to light up our eyes with wonder that could only have come from the innocence of childhood.
It has been a few years since my cousin or I have really played the way we used to when we were nine and ten. Now our “play” consists of gossip, reading through teen magazines and commenting how we despise our most recent school assignment. I can remember when all we thought about was getting outside so we could feel the sun when we tested our abilities against the other in races, tree climbing, bike riding, swimming, and so many other activities that only have a certain motivational quality when one is young.
I feel so old thinking back, even though I am only eighteen. Where did my childhood go? How could I have let it slip through my fingers without realizing it? There was a time when a Sailor Moon episode, ice cream, and a bedtime story sent me right to sleep without a care in the world. Now before I go to bed, I worry about things that as a child I thought were unimportant. Lying on my back staring at the dark ceiling, I wonder if I made the right impression on that person, is college really as important as everyone keeps telling me, do I have to be everything everyone expects of me, what is true love and will I ever find it, what if I fail and everyone leaves me? How could I have acquired so many worries?
Even though I know I can’t get back my childhood, I know that I haven’t lost it. I am still the little girl who was afraid to jump off the monkey bars without her mother there to catch her, the same girl who refused to wear shoes even though the gravel was hot and sharp and the bee sting didn’t feel nice, and the same girl who said she would never get married when her mother persisted in saying she eventually would. I have learned that our childhood teaches us to be free and have no restraints so we will know what we are capable of when the worries do come. Children know they can do anything and will accomplish whatever it is they set out to do. Each of us needs to remember our childhoods, know that we haven’t changed all that much, and keep the same fearless attitudes that our parents knew we were so stubborn for having.