I think I started realizing my childhood was slipping away when the school system demolished my elementary school playground and built a new and improved set that looks like a bumblebee. I can only wonder, why did the tried and true, well-rusted, green and cream death trap of metal have to go? I still have fond memories of the day I passed out with a bloody nose…of getting hit in the face with a rubber ball…of ripping my knees open on the mulch…Okay, maybe I understand why they replaced it now. It doesn’t mean I have to be happy with it.
To be fair, there are cool things about being an adult. Making your own appointments, paying taxes, or voting. Even though I haven’t graduated high school yet, (less than 3 months and counting), adulthood has crept up on me, and frankly, I don’t think I’m ready. If my ire over the loss of the playground wasn’t clue enough, I don’t feel like an adult whatsoever. In some ways, I still feel like a second semester junior. My high school experience was rudely interrupted, and before I could process the loss of junior prom, a year had passed a year ago, bringing my 18th birthday and high school graduation upon me. Potential careers and college acceptances float in the back of my mind, but the fact that I have two months and change left in high school still doesn’t seem quite real. I’ve had my senior year stolen away from me.
As much as the class of 2021 has lost, adulthood is just around the corner. It’s weird to realize that we aren’t children anymore. It’s even weirder when I see middle schoolers on TikTok who look older than me. It’s like I blinked and suddenly the elementary schoolers are adults, except they’re not even freshmen yet. They’re children. So why do these middle schoolers look my age? Did they skip the weird phase and go straight to short shorts, heavy eyeliner, and dancing to songs that, at best, are simply suggestive, but at worst, are blatantly sexual? Something about the situation just doesn’t sit right with me. After reading comments glorifying 14 year olds’ borderline exotic dancing as “body positivity,” I worry about the influences these kids are encountering on TikTok, Instagram, or Snapchat. Maybe the clothes and the makeup are just that, but why is any child thinking about their appearance? Is it indicative of our appearance-obsessed culture and the rise of social media, or is it simply just the popular style among them?
Maybe in my “old age” I’m overanalyzing the behaviors of middle schoolers. Maybe my own mannerisms and interests are immature and childish for my age. Perhaps I should get over my childhood playground and grow up. Maybe eyeliner is harmless, and maybe shorts length is insignificant, but I wish childhood lasted a little longer. I wish we could stay on the playground for a little longer in the evening. I wish social media and body image was insignificant to 9 year olds. I wish teenagers still believed it’s okay to still watch “Sofia the First” on Disney+. It’s cute, and funny, and in an era when we spend more time looking at a screen than one another, maybe it’s okay to find joy in childish things. Mostly, I just wish that children could stay children. My time has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean yours has to. Relish the time you have left in high school- trust me, it flies by.