It’s a rare day when I’m not writing specifically about Black people. Our lived experiences are so rich, so varied, and multifaceted that I could easily do it for the rest of my life and still not exhaust all topics.
But at the end of the day, there are certain life themes that are universal. And children, with their naivety and purity, are often the best people to express some of the lessons that we forget as we age.
Yesterday, my sister sent me a video of actor Josh Gad’s daughter coming to the realization that she won’t remain a child forever.
In the video after she asks her Nanny, Sara, why she has to grow up. And then in a moment of real thoughtfulness, she asks her if she ever misses being a child. It’s a question I wish I had considered when I was younger.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be grown. This past Christmas, my mom said, “I never really saw Veronica as a baby-baby. There was always something about her that was grown. And people always used to tell me, it was like you’d been here before.” In daycare, I refused to take naps, preferring to lay on my cot and observe what happened when we were supposed to be sleep. During recess, I was the kid who tried to stand around the group of watchful teachers, preferring their conversations to the ones my peers were having. I greeted the onset of my period with open arms believing that it made me a bona fide woman even though I was just nine-years-old. I couldn’t wait to get out of high school and into college, where I thought real adulthood, and thus life, began. Two weeks after graduation, I jumped into an internship and three months after that, into the workforce, still searching for adult freedom.
Perhaps I saw grown people making their own decisions, doing what they wanted, telling me what to do and I desired that independence and autonomy. But as a child, I had no way of understanding the underbelly of adulthood: the bills, the taxes, the necessity of work, the responsibility of taking care of myself—every single day. It’s a lot, far more than I could have anticipated as a child. And in my quest to be grown, I wish I had taken the time to stop and wonder if there was anything I would miss about childhood.
If I had, I would have noted that there were lots of things that were good about that age. But cruelly, I didn’t see the full value in them until I was an adult.
Watching the video was a reminder to me that it’s so important that we appreciate every single stage of our lives. There’s nothing more pathetic than watching people forsaking the fruits of age and wisdom in favor of being around young people who consider them a nuisance. And now that I’m an adult, I can see how a third grader hanging around trying to be a part of teachers’ conversations was annoying as all hell. Thankfully, when those teachers told me to “Go play,” I got the message.
Enjoying every stage of life is critical in not losing your damn mind. Living in the past you can’t change is futile and worrying about the future you can’t control is frustrating. This goes beyond age. It applies to career goals, mental and spiritual wellness, and even relationship status.
I spent so much of my life wanting a romantic partner. But the second after I left the first date with my now husband, I started freaking out thinking about how much alone time I was going to have to sacrifice in order to nurture a relationship. Whew chillay.
There’s sweetness in every season. But if we’re too busy looking back or straining to see what’s ahead, we’ll miss all of it.