"Aww, Grow Up!"-An Essay on Being Childish

"Aww, Grow Up!"-An Essay on Being Childish

by Jason K. Chapman

The day I stop acting childish is the day I die--whether my body continues or not. The phrase "grow up" is one of my pet peeves.

Children have wonderful imaginations. They aren't afraid to dream. They embrace hope and have an innate conviction that only the best and the brightest future awaits them. Children laugh with little or no provocation, finding humor and joy in the tiniest things. Children accept. They see the best in others. They trust to a fault, it's true, but they can learn the wisdom to stay safe without hating or fearing the unfamiliar for being unfamiliar.

Children look to the future without fear. They look to the past without guilt. Their expectations have not yet been dulled by those who preach that unhappiness, loneliness, and heartbreak are all the world has to offer.

Children see the world in a butterfly's hapless flight. They taste joy in the snowflakes on the tips of their tongues. They haven't learned that the nose belongs on the grindstone or that the world stops at the edges of the ruts they're supposed to dig.

They haven't learned that dreams are dangerous. They haven't fallen for the lie that hope is a futile luxury. They believe--they *know*--they can accomplish anything given time and just enough stubborn determination.

They reach for the stars over their heads, because no one has yet convinced them that they are unreachable. They listen to the wind, because they still understand what it has to say. They delight in the shape of a leaf or the sound of a horn or the sight of the sheer-sided grandeur of a skyscraper.

In their innocence, children are the masters of their world. Nothing is unreachable. Nothing is unknowable. They live to live. No other justification is necessary.

I am more a child now than I was when I met the age requirement. I had to learn to dream all over again. I had forgotten how, because I believed I had to grow up. I believed it when I was told that dreamers were fools. I accepted the chains I was told I had to wear, the blinders I was told I must accept.

The borders that hem us in, we draw ourselves. The walls that enclose us, we erect. I had to learn to tear them down, to break the chains that I, myself, had forged.

I wasted many years, but I'm past it. I won't go back. I am a child again and I will be one until I die.

--Jason K. Chapman

(originally appeared in alt.skunks 4/98)