Most of us are fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by love. We are coddled, swaddled, and shown off from birth. As we grow, even the most minute of accomplishments are broadcast: first steps, ballet recitals, little league games, we are born Rockstars. Toys, friends, and schedules, all provided to us by our two favorite people: Dad, the strongest man on earth and Mom, the woman who can fix anything with a kiss. But slowly, we change, and we crave freedom to the point of rebellion. All of those things provided for us become dare I say, passé, solely because our parents picked them out. Eventually, those parents who gave to us so freely often become seen as the “bad guys”. They keep us contained with rules, chores, and curfews. I myself am perhaps the most guilty of feeling trapped by this prison and rushing towards a poorly formulated escape plot.
We all dreamt of growing up, moving away and being free. Until we arrived… now here we sit, with no one to blame for curtailing our freedoms but ourselves. For us, the Peter Pan Generation Y of 20 Somethings, perhaps the scariest realization is that we miss being able to play the blame game… No more saying “Sorry friends, I can’t get drunk with you and make bad decisions tonight because my stupid mother (you remember, that lady who ensures I am fed and presentable in public) is being a total b*tch.” Now, we sit hard at work, while our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchats are abuzz with the real time reminders of the fun we could be having… If our stupid adult selves hadn’t grounded us.
How old were you when you had to sit that child you once were down and tell them they couldn’t be an astronaut, a ballerina, or the President of the United States? How many friends and people in your life have you forced yourself to let go because they “weren’t good for you”? The realization that growing up means being the “bad guy” to our inner child terrifies us… especially me…
When did we become the “bad guys”? Did we wake up one day and leave our favorite Barbie or GI Joe to collect dust? Or did we slowly wean ourselves off like the “bad guys” who took away our first bottles, binkies, and baby blankets did? When did magazines like Highlights for Kids get replaced by Cosmo and GQ? If you’re like me, you don’t remember… But judging by the piles of unread Esquire & GQ on my coffee table (which I know are impressing no one) it’s happened.
But, that’s not all we don’t recall… Think back to when you were but a child. Remember how easy it was to be happy? The blanket forts, coloring books, running into mommy or daddy’s arms when they came home. Hell, for me, not being picked last at basketball in gym class made my entire week. Now, remember how proud of you the “bad guys” were when you got an A on that math test, made a sports team, or finally took out the trash? Think back to the look on your mother’s face when you gave her that macaroni necklace, how your father glowed with pride when you gave him that ugly tie… It was the little things that made us (and them) the happiest… As we mature and have to become our own “bad guys” don’t forget to appreciate the little things your inner child enjoys and tries to show you, let them come out and play once in a while, you’ll be proud of them, I promise.
So, this weekend when we head out in droves to the bars to that have replaced the cafeterias where we used to congregate, the blocks where we used to play hide and seek, and that neighbor’s backyard where you used to catch fireflies, let’s order a Shirley Temple with extra Maraschino Cherries, raise our glasses and toast to the happy kids we once were, who would’ve given anything to be up past curfew and in a “grown up bar”.