Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Our childhood is what makes us who we are, and it’s also what sustains us when we enter into the sometimes crushing reality of adulthood. This world isn’t easy to live in. The monsters you once thought hid under the bed don’t hide anymore, they walk the streets, and they are every bit as frightening as when you lay huddled beneath the bedcovers at night after a bad dream.
When you grow up, you enter into a world of jobs and mortgages, a world of endless responsibility; a world that can gobble you right up if you let it. You learn that bad things do happen and that they happen every second of every day. As you grow up you begin to learn about the past, and the depravity of your own species through the ages. The boogie man comes knocking at your front door with a gun and a smile, and life stops being fair and becomes ugly.
It’s easy to get lost in the big bad world, which is why your childhood is so important. It lets you exist in a time where things are simpler, where you see the world through a keyhole and the grass is green right where you stand. You get to exist in a place where all the fairy tales are real, when you might still get your Hogwarts letter, where life is made of wonder and you don’t scare so easily.
But once you grow up the simple truth is that life can be hard, brutally hard, and you need somewhere to go, memories to sustain you when it feels like you’re being suffocated under the life you’ve made for yourself. You need to get be able to remember back to the days when you felt you could be anything in the world, from a princess to Pokémon Master. You have to be able to remember when the world was an idea, when the doors were opening instead of closing and when every crack and crevice was full of magic.
But sadly there are many people who had their childhood taken from them, whose lives have always been complicated. These people deserve to be given a chance to salvage their own childhood, and they can’t do it on their own. Those of us who had a happy childhood have to help them, have to allow them to enter into our world. Force them to watch every single Harry Potter movie and make them read the books you read when you were a kid. Bring them to the beach and make them build a sandcastle, give them the memories they never got to make.
The gift of a childhood is the greatest gift you can give another person, because within it lies the pathway to everything else, the basic understanding of love and the simplistic goodness that we all need to fall back on. We could all use a little childish logic now and then, giving things because it’s right, not because you want to look good, doing things without expecting anything in return.
Maybe your childhood wasn’t perfect, maybe your life has never stopped being complicated. Maybe your parents taught you things you wish you didn’t know. Regardless of the lot you were dealt as a child - as an adult, as a parent you have to be the one to teach your children what you wish you had been taught, and you must always be mindful of the millions of children in the world today who have no childhood because their world is consumed by war and poverty. Their world is broken, shattered, along with every dream they ever dared to dream.
English poet John Betjeman said, "Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows."
Cherish your children and give them a childhood worth remembering, because it’s the foundation that holds them up.
Children and young people reading this – you too must cherish and do your best to enjoy your childhood – you owe it to your adult self!