When I was a little girl, I was more than excited to become a woman. For one thing I couldn’t wait to have a womanly figure. I yearned to have breasts, hips, a bigger butt, and yes, even my period. I admit I used to stuff my flat-chested, training-bra-wearing self with tissue when no one was home just to see how it would look to have “boobs.” Aside from the body change, I really couldn’t wait to grow up so that I could do whatever I wanted. I thought being an adult meant you could go and come as you please without having to ask anyone for permission to do what you wanted. Being an adult meant freedom to me and I couldn’t wait. Little did I know how good I had it just being a kid.
My mother and other adults kept telling me to just enjoy being a child. I thought they were crazy because I perceived childhood as ridiculous limitations. I have an older brother who is five years older than me, and even the privileges he was granted were appealing to me. I would always whine to my mother and say, “Why can’t I do what Ronny does?” She would always give me a stern look and say that for one, he was a boy and two, he was older than me.
If in my eager anticipation to grow up I was told that being an adult meant paying bills, working in order to survive (sometimes at a job you hated), having to be on a budget, making schedules in order to organize my life and still being held accountable to employers – I doubt I would have been in such a rush to grow up. Oh and if someone told me the horrors of a menstrual cycle I would have definitely basked in my pad, tampon and panty liner free days. If someone broke down to me the complexities of relationships, what it takes to make them work and the pain you feel after you get your heart broken I wouldn’t have been so mesmerized with the thought of being in love.
Being a child meant having fun and living carefree. I depended on my parents for all of my basic needs and then some. All I had to worry about was doing good in school and staying out of trouble. I was in about every extra-curricular activity you could think of, and when I got paid from my little retail job the only bill I had to worry about paying was my cell phone bill. I didn’t have to pay for metro cards because my high school provided them. I really didn’t realize how sweet I had it.
Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely advantages to being an adult. I am able to make my own decisions and steer my own path in life. I can most certainly go where I want without asking my parents for permission. I do enjoy a level of independence that a child doesn’t have. I experience people and places I didn’t have access to as a kid. Most importantly, with age came wisdom. This is one of the things I value the most and look forward to gaining more of as I get older.
When I mentor young girls or other young adults in my family tell me how much they can’t wait to be an adult, now I am the one urging them to enjoy their childhood. I tell them to treasure these carefree years because they will miss them when they are gone. They laugh at me, of course, just like I laughed at adults when they told me the same thing when I was younger. I guess part of being a child is wanting to grow up.