Lately I feel like the more I grow into adulthood, the more I realize how much of my reality I have all wrong. But is it completely my fault?
What I’m really getting at is the concept of childhood. What does it mean? Why does it seem to mean more to adults than to children themselves? Is it that most kids live too far in-the-moment to get the gravity of their experience—let alone appreciate it? From this point on, I’m gonna refer to the youngest demographic as “kids” (not to be confused with goats ^_^ of course) and here’s why:
What does the word “Child” mean? Literally speaking, the word itself has its Old English root dubbed cild, is of Germanic origin and suggests a person being “…of the womb.” Its origins don’t stop there, of course. My take is more of a superficial one in that the word implies someone who is born of one male parent and one female parent. In a nutshell. I could grow to be ninety-three years old and still be a child. I didn’t pop out of the ground after the genesis of my life. I’m just technically an elderly child. Right? Society, in the U.S. anyways, seems to disagree however. The word, when used in regular conversation, suggests commentary almost: it weighs maturity or implies a stage of physical development, or appearance; a prepubescent state. The word also seems to largely suggest integrity. What do I mean? Familiar suggestions are: Purity and innocence. Compared to my very simplistic definition, society’s version is SUPER heavy. But why?
Maybe that can be determined by looking at the complimentary term: Adult. What does THAT mean? Apparently this word has its Latin root, dubbed If anyone’s taken a sister language, such as Italian, Spanish or French you might understand this root is an transformed version of a verb that means “to grow.” My point? Adultus actually means “grown” more or less. But does that suggest a process that’s already done? Despite being in my mid-20s myself, I realize more often about how universal the word “grown” is in my culture despite it being, I think, TOO vague. Technically I’m not done growing. Technically I’m on a slow decline, kinda floral-like; which is a path, an existentialist would say, all people walk on starting at birth. What does U.S. society think? The opposite of a “child” apparently seems to be the definition: mature, no-longer-pubescent and not? Innocent? Jokes fly around with words like tainted, or scarred. But what’s really wrong with the zeitgeist here?
Failure Meets Expectations
Perhaps general U.S. (adult) culture is self-conscious? That seems like a very adolescent state of being, ironically. I don’t think that’s surprising. Should it be? I hear time and again from many adults, older and younger, about how they don’t want their kids to repeat the same mistakes as theirs. Understandable. This subject brings other questions to mind: How much of child-rearing is selfless? How much of it is selfish? Do older people get so caught up with their own mistakes, cross-cultural screw-ups, political gamble losses, and societal downfalls that they scramble to teach alternative routes to kids’ minds? How ‘bout the opposite? Would they leave kids in the dark instead? Is that too overprotective or absolutely necessary? Basically is society too jaded or jaded enough? If I were a kid at this point, you’d think my shoulders would be sagging with all this weight and NO idea where I got it from.
Body image and sexuality
Speaking of weight. How much of us in the older, non-pubescent demographic had issues as basic as bad posture growing up? The U.S. zeitgeist seems really particular about body image and kids. This subject also tends to inevitably cross paths with gender issues, matters of sexual orientation, and even sexuality in general. I personally remember walking with my head down throughout my childhood. Heck, I rarely made eye contact with fellow pedestrians until COLLEGE. I lacked confidence. What were my parents doing? Telling me to believe in myself. What was society doing? Telling me to not show my cleavage, belly or butt. Wear a uniform? I’ve always been a pretty conservative female concerning attire, compared to my peers. But I never felt that way for no reason. I’m positive I was taught to think of myself a certain way. Males have it tough too! What I think is even more interesting, and also unfair to an extent is that society seems to teach body image to kids in a way that gets them to think about how society wants to view them first and their own self image second. (I understand this may not be universal) Basically, kids are taught to dress for third-party standards very early in life. But these standards can apply not just to clothing or image, but also life-style in general.
“German Chocolate, My Dears?”
How many stories can you recall parents or guardians telling you as a child only to find out later were completely false? Or…not as true as you thought? I remember several: The Stork who delivers babies, Santa Claus (who supposedly ate my cookies when I was pretty sure my parents were swapping roles), to name a few. I appreciate storytelling as much as the next person. Heck, I eat, sleep and breathe a good story line. Different cultures around the world have histories of lessons and fables all geared towards teaching children to live a certain way. A good way. A righteous way. A positive way. But why do adults go to such lengths to tell these stories? Why is it normal to speak half-truths and classically condition each other to fear or shy away from subject matters that technically aren’t supposed to be awkward? Why not just talk about sex and babies and give kids high-fives when they lose their teeth-save their quarters for when they recite their full-alphabet for the first time instead? Are these lessons meant to avoid desensitization? Is society too sensitive as a result; at the expense of kids being properly educated? Or is it all best left alone; fine as it is? But I think there is a possibly new addition to these “stories;” one that I hope doesn’t get told unless it’s with more honesty and less fear: homosexuality.
Although I’m a straight person, I’m happy to say my society has finally made it [past itself lol] (of course, me being black as well, I know better than to think homosexuals are completely outta the water, after all, racism still exists. But at least gay couples can wade in the water now ^_^). There’s a hiccup though. I only see this hiccup where kids are concerned. Is this hiccup real or not? I hope someone can tell me.
BUT I’m getting ahead of myself. Same-sex marriage is officially legal in all 50 States as of barely a month ago from this date. Yay! The sequel of Nickelodeon’s highly successful animated action-adventure series Avatar: The Last Airbender, appropriately dubbed Avatar: The Legend of Korra became the first kids show ever to have an openly-gay character (AND she’s a dark-skinned, FEMALE LEAD!!!). Yay! As one who watched both series, they told her story so well and nothing felt forced at all—not even her relationships. So what’s the problem, right? I wonder if there are some straight people out there who think of homosexuality as exclusively an “adult” thing or matter. Basically something that’s still too hard to teach kids about under the age of six. Are a majority of straight people still only associating gay relationships as sexual instead of, simply put, platonic? MUTUAL? Can’t forget that. As a disclaimer, I have no idea what gay people have to go through or deal with on a DAILY basis. I can’t even imagine. I can imagine that I take a whole lot for granted. I mean, I remember taking my baby-sister’s hand in mine only a few hours ago, gently swinging it to-and-fro. Can I imagine hesitating with a significant other on such a simple gesture?
NOPE. Nuthin’ but questions. All these questions bring up MORE questions: What is childhood? Do we teach and rear out of fear and survival? Preservation, hope, a little of both? How much should kids reflect adults; can anyone control that? Do kids have their say on what “childhood” means to them? Should kids be taught how better to understand the weight of a life they did not choose to enter? Is that why adults teach? Is it because adults owe kids some explanations even though it often looks the other way around? Should a kid’s confusion be held against them?
If anyone at all wants to share their two-cents PLEASE comment. I would much love to hear more personal experiences about the questions I wrote here. I did say I love storytelling, and I believe that people being open to each other’s personal experiences and ideas invites a collective peace of mind, even despite disagreement.
Want to learn more about this topic?
**COA's, Disclaimers and ETC's**
All mentioned content is purely for entertainment/informative purposes. All links provided for each respective topic are of sites I find trustworthy (a.k.a. safe to browse) with any following content the property of those admins. Any unexpected roads to elsewhere are at the discretion of your own browser/internet provider’s security settings …annnd hopefully a good firewall.
Please pardon me if I am not too accurate with the subjects I post about. I do try my best to stay current and not generalize. Constructive criticism and “Grammar Nazis” are welcome (especially about my artwork ^_^), but no flames …[pretty] PLEASE? If you have anything to add, correct or would like to share any cool topics you’d like me to draw for, feel free to click on the links towards the bottom of each page, or drop me a message here!