Birthday Parties and Growing Up
/ wish other kids had that pri ilege. doo many young people grow up too fast ecause they are thrown into compromising situations in which they ha e to lea e ehind their childhood and their innocence fore er. doo many kids e peri ence trauma and unhappiness in our world today, ro ed of their a ility of looking at e erything with childlike wonder. en in e eryday families, hardworking and tired parents unintentionally hurt their children s feelings and lower their self esteem y telling them to stop asking questions, stop talking to their imaginary friends, stop mak ing a mess, and ust go and watch ds or something.
As the only teenager at a seven year old’s birthday party, I had no one to gossip with, no one with a new crush to stalk, and no one with whom to complain about boredom. Instead, I was surrounded by kids painting pictures of flowers, birds, and monsters, showing off their Spiderman face paint masterpieces, chasing and popping bubbles, chatting about their favorite books and movies, and covering their cupcakes with layers of chocolate chips, gummy bears, and sprinkles. It was the best party ever. Why wouldn’t it be? There was delicious food. There were art themed activities like calligraphy and rock or canvas painting. There was even a photo booth with wacky props, and all the little kiddies were so cute and hilarious (and I even got to get them to take a group photo with me! Yes!). When it was time to go, I approached the mom of the birthday celebrant to thank her for inviting me. She said she hoped I had a good time since she was worried at first that I might have gotten bored. I was happy to answer that I honestly had a great time. I think the reason why I had so much fun was because I got to be a kid again for a few hours. I drew donuts and clouds on rocks with paint markers and blew purple, pink, and yellow bubbles. I positioned gummy bears artfully on my cupcakes and had dolphins painted on my arm. I got to stop thinking about schoolwork, angst, crushes, and all the worries that come with this whole thing called life. I was totally engrossed and present in what was happening at that moment. Being a kid again was the best. Being surrounded by kids was exhilarating, too. Watching them interact with each other reminded me what being a kid truly means. Being a kid is itching to do something big, something AWESOME, all the time. Kids are always surrounded with support, encouragement, and youcan-do-its. Everyone can do everything, and the phrase “I’m not good at it” doesn’t exist. Fights between friends are made up in a few minutes. Kids’ opinions are always important, especially when talking about their many unique and interesting talents and experiences. Kids are one hundred percent themselves all the time, no masks, no fakers. Seriously, being treated like a kid isn’t so bad, and being a kid is so much more amazing than actual kids think. The whole experience triggered in me the memory of me crying in the middle of the night when I was little. Back then, I would imagine having to move away, live on my own, get married, grow white hair, and eventually and inevitably surrender to the arms of death (I had an overactive imagination). It was scary. It’s STILL scary. I made declarations and promises like, “I don’t want to grow up! I love being a kid!” and “I am NEVER EVER getting married! EVER!” I couldn’t imagine myself away from my family and having to live in a sad and lonely house all alone, not knowing how to cook or wash clothes or defend my hou broken in by robbers (overactive imagination, remember?). I thought that sixteen was such a ripe, old, mature, fascinating, exciting age full of parties and boyfriends and that it was MUCH too scary and too far away to think about. Right? But fast forward ten years later. I’ve been away from home months at a time, I’ve travelled on my own, I am not completely against one day possibly getting married (sshhh don’t tell my younger self; she’ll kill me!), I know how to cook and clean, and, surprise, surprise, I’m turning sixteen next year. No boyfriends, here though, but parties, ehem, BIRTHDAY parties just keep coming. With all my fears and convictions about growing up, I seemed to have grown up while I wasn’t looking. And I am not anymore entirely against it. Weird. Maybe it was because I was ready to grow up. I didn’t rush into being a teenager or a young adult. I was able to continue watching kiddie shows and making scrapbooks and playing pretend for as long as I wanted, or needed to. When a lot of my peers had “crushes” at 6 years old, I was too busy playing hide and seek and bato bola with boys AND girls. While friends were reenacting scenes from soap operas and practicing how to cry on command, I imagined I was a princess living in medieval times, or a detective on a case to find a long lost treasure. My parents never told me to grow up; they told me to take my time and enjoy everything while it lasted. I’m so grateful for that. I wish other kids had that privilege. Too many young people grow up too fast because they are thrown into compromising situations in which they have to leave behind their childhood and their innocence forever. Too many kids experience trauma and unhappiness in our world today, robbed of their ability of looking at everything with childlike wonder. Even in everyday families, hardworking and tired parents unintentionally hurt their children’s feelings and lower their self-esteem by telling them to stop asking questions, stop talking to their imaginary friends, stop making a mess, and just go and watch TV or something. If I ever have kids, I’m going to ensure that their childhoods are the happiest, most positive, and loving ones possible. I’m never going to tell them to stop asking questions, or that they’re meant to be seen, not heard. I’m going to teach them that being kind is better than being right, and that everything they do is an opportunity to learn something from. And most importantly, I’m going to make sure they have the best birthday parties ever, complete with bubbles, face paint, and cupcakes. Sweet, just how the kids like them.