Last week, my husband and I went to the Adventure Science Center’s planetarium for a laser show.
We were there on a Saturday night when the center was closed to visitors. The whole place was empty and dark, except for the lobby up front where you purchase tickets. Since we got there an hour early (we like to live on the edge), we had time to wander (sneak) around before the show started. We had both gone there on field trips in school, but it seemed a lot cooler now. Come to think of it, most of the perks of childhood seem a lot cooler now than they did back in the day. Is youth really wasted on the young?
How many times did you wish you were older as a kid? For me, it was a regular thing. Every birthday I had would push the “ideal” age back a little further; when I turned 13, which I thought was unbelievably cool in itself (why?), I started counting down to the day I’d turn 16 and really be awesome. On my 16th birthday, I was slightly disappointed that my level of awesome-ness didn’t seem to change much, even after I got my license. Instead of reveling in how great it was to be able to drive without my mom in the passenger seat (sorry, Teresa), I could only focus on wishing I was 18.
Now that I’ve reached the last milestone age that I was certain would end with me being a famous singer or at least a college graduate (21), I’m realizing that maybe I didn’t take enough advantage of the kid-exclusive perks of life.
Those blessed naptimes in kindergarten, Chuck E. Cheese, and the relentless trick-or-treating I did every Halloween. Do our children even know how good they’ve got it? Tree houses, parachutes in gym class, sleepovers, recess, juice boxes, coloring, free admission, roller coasters, Disney movies and the Adventure Science Center.
They get all these things not because of some great accomplishment or contribution to society, but because they’re little. And cute.
And maybe because we know they’ll be in charge of our care (or lack thereof, if you’re not careful) one day, so we want to make them as comfortable and happy as possible while they’re still in our loving nest.
At what age do we start yanking the lavish kids-only privileges away from children?
I have a theory that however great the privilege is determines how early it’s taken away. The better it is, the quicker they pull the plug on it.
Can’t let them get too comfortable. For example, naptime during school is really great, so they take it away at age 6. Before you can really learn to appreciate it, or learn how to fall asleep with the roaring sound of snoring kindergarteners and your teacher’s classical music in your ears. Sleepovers are fun, but not as great as naptime, so they let you have those until you’re 12 or so.
My advice for kids is to take advantage of these childhood rites unabashedly and without apology. Yes, I’ll take that second chocolate milk. Of course, I want to go to Disney Land. And turning this refrigerator box into a clubhouse? Do you even have to ask?
So, is youth really wasted on the young, like George Bernard Shaw said? Yes. It was wasted on you, and on me, and it’s being wasted on our children right now.
You can see it being wasted every time you ask your daughter to lay down for a mid-morning nap and she acts like it’s the end of the world. The good thing about wasting the precious commodity of youth is that it’s pretty fun to do.
You make some fun memories in the process, and at the time, you don’t have a care in the world. Isn’t that really what counts?
Lebanon native Debra Fulcher Carpenter writes when she isn’t studying, or when she’s procrastinating. Mostly when she’s procrastinating. She is a young housewife, student and mom. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at motherinterrupted.com.