I want a giraffe as a best friend! I want to ride around my humble lofted abode atop a plastic train! I want to feel early afternoon freedom by way of tricycle-riding and subsequent inferred post-ride string cheeses!!
The most ironic part yet is that if I were the commercial's kid stars, I wouldn't want to add rings to my tree trunk either. Jaleel White's hosting an elevated version of Lights On Lights Off (if you don't know what that is, I'll teach you another time), Lindsay Price's most recent show was intended to be a Sex and the City-style hit but quickly got canceled (like most TV shows I commit myself to watching), and the third broad? Well, she's doing pretty well, but I'll bet her bed isn't filled with brand new stuffed animals, so we'll chalk it up to failure.
But hey, hold on — I didn't fall down a YouTube black hole to comment on a famed faux nerd's current work status; I did it because I need to address just how much I seem to want to be a kid again. From carrying teddy bear backpacks as a twenty-something to a abandoning a toy jewelry side-biz because I was sick of being around glue, I've always toed the line of immature interests, possibly even passing it because I am, as much as I deny it, a full-grown adult. And as the early half of my twenties escapes me more quickly by the minute, hour and day, I'm stuck in this abyss of dreaming of classes in 40-minute increments as e-mails pile in and of summer camp as the afternoons heat up. As much as I try to inject my days with edible childlike wonders or guest appearances by Walter*, I find myself relegated to the modern day ball and chain of laptop and power cord, never to discover that my day's activities have been reverted to "basketball with Cabin 3" or "Surprise Waterpark Day".
I know it's a zillion summers ago and so many years after the fact, but I'm really struggling to comprehend that childhood's gone, over, done forever. There never will be another time in my life where my afternoon schedules consist of kayaking and getting a slurpee at the canteen snack shack , or at least one where a block of hours spent fully outdoors didn't require me to put up an out-of-office e-mail responder.
I miss it, I miss it all so much. And the worst part is, I'm starting to realize I'm never going to get it back.
Last weekend, my boyfriend and I went to a birthday party at a wild beer hall out in Brooklyn. It was packed to the walls and loud and lively as usual, but one thing was starkly different from most other German booze hauses: the majority of the clientele were, I shit you not, under the age of eight. It was, in every way of the word, truly incomprehensible to be run over by remote control cars and hit by flailing child arms while parents got together and soaked up their necessary two brew-filled hours together. I don't know how it was legal, or if this joint is a secret, or if this is how people whose babysitting relatives live outta town get their free time squeezed in on Sunday afternoons, but it was almost like taking a peek at the dark underbelly of life after pregnancy for those of us who are nowhere near shitting out an alien baby. And though we singles considered this behavior to be beyond bizarre, I totally understand why this place, for some, is heaven. Because that's what life with a baby will be like — being yourself while trying to be in charge of another — and if you live near a joint like this, drinking a beer in one hand, and wrestling a cup of pretzel mustard out of tiny creature's mouth with the other.
Childhood for us will only come again by governing someone else's which, let me say, is enough to swallow a bottle of pills Carrie Matheson-style and attempt to go to sleep for a long, long time.
It's sad, because when I think about the new clothes I'd excitedly buy before heading off to Wisconsin for months on end or those sandy dirt path I'd walk down day in and day out, there's a storm cloud over it, forcing me to remember it's all in the past. The next time I'll look forward to school, or childhood or camp won't be when I pack this year's duffel for it, but when I'll breathe a sigh of freedom after throwing however many munchkins I poop out onto a bus for four to eight weeks.
I don't want to get all "I'm not a girl, not yet a woman" on you nice folks, but I'm at a crossroads — ha! pun so not intended — with this thing. I crave carefree days, organized child sports and fun being the utmost goal in life, but don't see a feasible way to approach it from either end. Maybe the answer's still on its way, but in the meantime, I've mastered a quick fix I think will suffice for most anyone who catches my daily drift: Throw on a well-fitting pinstripe suit, cross your fingers whenever they're not glued to a keyboard nd pray that a Freaky Friday time machine makes its way towards you soon. You may wind up having to ask the prettiest girl in school to the dance, but if it gets me even a smidge closer to the goofy kid variety of daily tasks, I'm deeming it forever worth it.
*Yes, I've named my stuffed monkey, which is either a testament to how bizarre being home alone all day can get, or just a not-so-secret sign that I've never had a pet and probably should get one.