Art by Anne Jordan 2016
On my sixth birthday, I sobbed uncontrollably. My mother asked "What's wrong? Why are you crying?"
"Because I'm six!" I said "It's the end of being a little child."
People laugh when they hear this story because they don't understand how very real- and justified- my grief was. I knew how special it was to be five. I knew I lived in a world of magic where teddy bears were real, and I knew those days were numbered. I'd been watching the grownups, and what I saw filled me with dread: boring conversations, cooking, laundry, and bills. I never saw them color or play pretend. When Christmas came, my parents gave each other things I didn't consider gifts at all- things like clothing and kitchen appliances! I figured when you reached a certain age something must die inside you. I wanted to freeze time, but time refused to be frozen. I was growing up whether I liked or not.
The more I thought about it, I realized the crux of the problem must be grownups forgot about magic. The magical world was still there, of course, but it was as if they'd lost the key. I knew there was nothing I could do to prevent myself from growing older, and there was no getting around it- one day I would have to do laundry. BUT if I could only remember the magic, maybe I would be ok. So with all the power I could muster, I sent a message into the future to my grown up self: REMEMBER THE MAGIC.
And here I am, message received. I'm so grateful to my past self for that very important reminder. It has definitely informed the kind of adult I've become.
But I see now I was only partly right about adults forgetting magic. We do, but it's not as simple as that. So many things happen to us along the way. We fail, we question ourselves, we lose our innocence, our hearts are broken, our loved ones die. These things take a toll on our spirits, and sometimes we don't feel like playing. Plus, the responsibilities are huge and overwhelming. When I'm doing my taxes, I often find myself muttering "I HATE being an adult!"
But do I really? Would my life be better if I could have only frozen time?
What would I say to my past self, that little girl who was so scared to leave childhood?
I'd say: You can keep your spirit alive when you're grown up BUT you have to fight for it. If you fight hard enough, adulthood can be fun, empowering, and yes, even magical.