A Startling Epiphany
The other night I had an epiphany: I am getting old. (So old, I actually know what “epiphany” means!) Now, mind you, I’m still haven’t reached twenty or the nightmarishly old age of thirty or even sixteen yet. But I am fifteen years old and I feel ancient.
This astounding fact dawned on me as I watched my younger sister’s worship dance class a few nights ago. There were eleven little girls, aged six to nine. The room was filled with giggles and sneaky smiles, lopsided ponytails and sillybands. Together, they jumped up and down to the music, singing along and running each other over to get to their spots in time. And as I sat on the side with my five-pound copy of Norton’s Anthology of English Literature perched on my lap, I realized: I am really old.
When was the last time I ran around with braids whipping all around, singing at the top of my lungs, “Every move I make I make in You! You make me move, Jesus!”? Or clipped on neon pink braids in my hair because my outfit just wasn’t pink enough without them? Or, realizing my friend was going to be in my little group at dance, grabbed her hands and jumped up and down screaming, “Yes!!!!! Yes! Yes! Yes!!!!!”?
I’ve got to tell you, it’s been a while.
I do remember acting like a kid. Vaguely. I was always mature beyond my years, and the American Girl doll went in a box when I was about ten. But before that, I do remember doing crazy spontaneous stuff. Like running around in the sprinkler and having pretend swordfights with sticks and racing to see who could eat a popsicle the fastest without getting a brain freeze. But the days of sticky fingers and scraped knees seem so far gone, that I sometimes I forget I ever had them.
In my mind, I see the innocence and beauty of childhood as something that escaped from me a long time ago and that I can’t seem to find anymore. I know that I’m only fifteen, and that I’m still a child in many ways. But I can’t remember how to be mischievous and obnoxious and sweet and utterly adorable all at the same time anymore.
For some reason, this is a thought that really bothers me. Why can’t I be a little kid? Why can’t I go back to when Tom Sawyer seemed like exactly the kind of guy I’d like to marry and Anne Shirley was my bosom soul mate in so many ways?
As I was standing by the door contemplating this after dance class was dismissed, my friend Beth walked over and hugged me. I sighed and announced to her my newly discovered tragedy. “Beth,” I said, “I realized something tonight. I am so old! Every year, I forget another thing about what it’s like to be a little kid.”
Beth rolled her eyes and, with all the sensibility and dry humor that only Beth possesses, told me exactly what I needed to hear. “Well, Rachel, you just need to play more.”
Agh! She was right! I do need to play more! I need to have more fun and get crazy sometimes. To put down my book or close the piano and do something spontaneous. To remember that life is short and there will always be plenty of time to be sensible and adult-like when I am actually an adult. To seize the day.
There are plenty of fabulous grown-up-ish things about being fifteen. I can drive. I can work. I can cook a three course meal and (sort of) clean it up afterwards. I can pass geometry. I can watch my mom’s friend’s six children for several hours.
But, you know what? There are also a lot of great kid stuff I can do if I want to. Because, no matter what people may say, I can still search for elephants and pandas with the pastor’s kids at church. And I can still watch Disney movies and get all of the cheesy jokes. And just test me to see if I don’t know the words to every Taylor Swift song!
And I can still play. My imagination is still active. And I hope it will still be when I’m twenty, and thirty, and the ripe old age of eighty-five! It’s just like George Bernard Shaw once said: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; We grow old because we stop playing.” May I always be a ten-year-old at heart!