Thursday, 25 August 2016

The best years.

"Enjoy your childhood years- they're the best years of your life!"

When I was younger, it always depressed the hell out of me to be told that those years would be the best of my life. Granted, I didn't have the greatest childhood, but I think that even if I'd had the most idyllic start, I would still have cringed at the constant reminder from everyone that it was only downhill from there. It's just an odd thing to tell kids, it really is. And it's something that is said a lot. I think it's also an odd way of getting kids used to the idea of their own mortality- there's an end to your life coming up, and it's going to be grim.

Aside from the weirdness of saying it, it's also not necessarily true. Being a kid might be wonderful. You might be lost in your dreams and never have to fall back to earth. Being a teenager might be the best fun. You might go to the best parties and never get hangovers. All through your younger years, you might have the most supportive family and the most positive friends. You might achieve. You might be truly happy.

But you might not.

All in all, there's a lot that can go wrong in a person's childhood. You might lose someone important to you, you might get seriously or chronically ill, you might be bullied, you might be abused, you might live in poverty. 

And there's not a lot a child can do about their circumstances. As adults, we like to think that we can change or control a lot of our lives, and whether that's true or not, a child isn't in the same position. When I was younger, there was a jolt of fear that went through me when I was told that those years would be the best, because I felt like I was failing. Like I was meant to be having this really great childhood and I couldn't even manage that. I couldn't change most of what was negatively affecting me.

Don't get me wrong, I know that my experiences weren't the same as most other people. But that's what makes it all the more odd for adults to universally say to kids. You have no idea what's really going on for a kid. Or what might be going on for them in the future.

I also get that a lot of adults have rose-coloured, backwards glancing glasses on, when they talk about their childhoods. I mean, hell, some adults may have had the childhoods that they remember as being so perfect. But that's not universal. Don't make assumptions and don't project them onto the children around you. Childhood was stressful enough 20 years ago and I bet it's only got worse.

I doubt very much that most adults really think about what they're saying when they tell kids that they ought to appreciate how those years are the best of their lives. To be fair, I doubt many kids really think about it, either. I think it's probably more of something that sticks in your mind if you're told it at a time when things aren't going too well for you. And it's really bloody hard, then, to hear.

1 comment:

  1. I think many of us had difficult childhoods... like you said in different ways. I tell my daughter to enjoy being a child but not because that is it... because I want her to live in the present... I think too many of us are always looking to the future.

    I agree our childhood isn't the best time of our lives and honestly no one has a perfect childhood... that is only in their dreams.

    All those trials do form who we become, it's not easy to get through and grow but necessary xox