Saturday, May 25, 2024

Keeping the Little Child Inside

by Zarelle Glen Dorothy A. Villanzana | February 11, 2022

I used to be four years old. Sitting across the cubicle desk, in the computer shop where my mom tutored older children, I would click on the search bar of the YouTube website and type in ‘Barbie movie’. Confusion would arise as the animation started to move and I put on the headphones not hearing anything, only to be told I had not plugged it in the green jack at the back of the computer case. Sometimes when I wanted to play games, I’d call out to my mother and ask how to spell the Cartoon Network, Disney, or Nickelodeon sites. Once I was taught, sooner I had gotten the hang of it (and when in doubt, autofill had my back). The simplicities of youth, when play was the only object in mind.

I used to be eleven years old. Skinny as ever, my hair almost reaching my hip, I would join in behind the classroom’s green curtains as my friends made Musical.lys when TikTok was not yet born. I remember being asked multiple times by classmates if I was okay and if my being pale had any sickness involved. I would assure them that there was nothing wrong because my eyebags were in-born and I just lacked iron. At twelve, I had cut my hair to my neck and started gaining weight. With high spirits into the freshman year, I was recognized as becoming a healthier person, even though my diet and my hobbies did not change. It never really mattered to me how I looked then. The obliviousness of youth, when the matters deemed important by society never took hold.

I used to be thirteen. Entering teenagehood didn’t feel much different, only that games in the lobby became less frequent and younger, unfamiliar kids started vacating the halls we used to run in as the teacher would call out for us to stop.

At fifteen, I felt the grasp of time. Teenagehood assured me I would never get back to forced afternoon naps, playing in the rain, tumbang preso in the streets, cops and robbers on school grounds, senseless chitchats with friends, mischievous pranks, and the ringing sound of laughter, among other things. It was all slipping away. I’m on a boat set to be pulled down by the waterfall’s gravity as the current pushes me nearer to the destination of adulthood. Like the effects of entropy, growing up, as I thought, could only ever be damaging. Never have I related more to Peter Pan upon understanding how much fear he must have felt to leave behind an era filled with nothing but liberty, mindlessness, and thus, enjoyment. The idea that we all have to age, (especially) have responsibilities was a terrifying concept, like we’d all end up being plastered in that same image of a dreary office cubicle, although each of us had different paths to take in life. The partition between reality and daydreams, when the necessity of the youth to step into the former arises.

I am sixteen years old. Two revolutions left to be made around the sun. Not too long ago, I had all these doubts and fears about losing my childhood. Eighteen, it seemed to me, was the end of the line. After the number, the fun would cease completely; days would go by with nothing but a downpour overhead, and life would have a monotonous pace of grey colors and long dashed lines. How dramatic these thoughts were to enter my silly brain. As if I had not learned in kindergarten, eighteen wasn’t the last in the number chart. Twenty exists, and surely after worrying about eighteen, I would worry about twenty, and then thirty, and the continuous multiples of ten. When does the worry end? When I die. And to think, I am still very far from the average age of passing. I have entered the mid-life crisis a little too early. Thus, after seeing the bigger picture, I have decided not to be bothered about these things, because it is just what life is.

There are numbers beyond the current one I am identifying as. With every number filled in, new aspects of myself will be discovered and tiny adventures will find my way somehow. Just like building ice cream machines with building blocks when I was three, in my teenage years, I continued to build friendships that might stay long or eventually decide to bid adieu, but no matter the circumstances, we’ll always remember the moments we shared together. I will realize that as I age, there will still be far too many roads to be trodden and many faces yet to be met.

 After observing ates and kuyas I’ve known when they were my age, their lives haven’t exactly lost their spark. Some have changed and shown different versions of themselves, and I believe as we all grow, the same will happen to us. It’s scary, but it’s the only fear we have to face either way. Peter Pan was a coward (controversial take). Growing up doesn’t suck, at least not entirely. We lose some, we get some. Frankly, growing up just offers us several different experiences, ones that are worth living through as much as the moments we wished would have been the only moments to be relived.  Definitions of fun will change, and the era of liberty and mindlessness will turn into those of wisdom and maturity, which will inevitably leave us responsibilities. But having responsibilities won’t mean losing our freedom to enjoy the gift of life. 

Our childhood won’t disappear entirely, I suppose. They will remain as recollections of the past, but we will continue to hold onto them as we grow. Like soap bubbles blown into the air, we will find amusement in some little things, different things as we age. Perhaps, childhood snacks, figures in clouds, and the mere sound of rain. A little child will be living inside each of us, and it will be for us to decide whether we want to keep them or not. I know I plan to keep mine. But for now, I shall stay in the present, until the currents will eventually take me away into that time of age.

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