“Young boys should never be sent to bed, they always wake up a day older” -J.M. Barrie
There are many films and books that like to romanticize the journey a boy embarks on to become a man. They make growing up and adulthood seem like some fantastic adventure, something to be chased and fought for, and something to take pride in once achieved. To be a grown up; there is no greater feat. However, these stories are wrong. Adulthood is not a prize to be won, a medal to be earned, a end to our means. Instead, I believe, adulthood is a failure on one’s behalf to remain young. On rare occasion does one remain young an entire lifetime; however, most desperately cling to their childhood, yet have their spark dulled bit by bit by those around them who have already succumbed. A few of us, though, were not quite as lucky as the others. No, a few of us were stripped of our innocence at such an early age that it has left a hurt inside us so deep that its almost irreparable. Our light —our happiness, innocence, ignorance, curiosity, imagination and bliss— was not dimmed over a course of decades, but instead stolen from us in a single moment. What tragedies that befell us to cause this switch are entirely our own, a unique event to each individual, but the existence of such an event is all we need to define us. We are those lost boys evicted from our Neverland and forced to quit our daydreams to take up the responsibilities of a middle-aged adult. We are the kids who weren’t allowed to be selfish because we had our siblings to care for. We are the sons and daughters who couldn’t cry because our parents were the one’s who needed comforting. We are the “content” because we couldn’t let our parent’s know that their budget greatly condensed our holiday wishlists. We are the wise-beyond-our-age because early on we had to learn the meaning of words like “divorce”, “death”, “abandonment”, and “poverty”. We are the afflicted, who could not enjoy the carefree nonsense of other children because we had stress, worry, duty, and responsibility. Adulthood is a terrible weight to be thrust upon the back of one whose legs have only just begun to take up strength, and once burdened there is no removing or lightening of the load. What’s more is those that have never been afflicted with such problems, those who were privileged with a complete or extended childhood, they can never understand those of us who were deprived. They don’t what it’s like to suppress giggles for the need to be serious, or to go to bed hungry because “times are tough, kid,” or to give up on fantasies of becoming a pirate or princess because the “real” world requires a “real” job. It is easy for others to look at us as crippled or incomplete because of the untimely removal of our childhood spark; but this is not the case. We are strong, because we have never had the chance to be anything less than that. We are unbreakable, because we must take care of those who have already been broke. And we are wise, because experience has crammed our developing heads with a wide-range of knowledge. But more than anything, we are determined to protect the light in every child to come, so that they may never endure what we have endured.
For what troubles a grown up should never trouble a child.