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“Raise Your Fists for Immaturity!”: In Praise of Childhood’s Joys

Savor the spirit of childhood all your life.                          Rey Villegas/ Flickr

Savor the spirit of childhood all your life. Rey Villegas/ Flickr

Have you seen your childhood lately?

Last week, a good friend of mine showed me Claude Kelly’s blog, a current songwriter, where he discusses childhood, and its freedoms, specifically: “Raise your fists for Immaturity!”

You may think “Ha ha! What?” but he means childhood was so great because we had no control over our lives; there were no restrictions. Life was presented to us nicely laid out by a grown-up every day. We pooped, we slept, we cried for the Barbies, threw tantrums, ate soap (I did) and lied in the grass with other kids without wondering about sexuality, race or beauty.

Kelly means that childhood was less complex than our teen years or our adult lives because we allowed ourselves to just be, and no one pressured us to fit into their definitions of maturity because we were just kids.

Adulthood is a box. We are taught to see the world through more critical eyes because we’re getting wiser, and the boundaries, prejudices and expectations of those around you are just part of getting older. Apparently maturity is shown by accepting this world as it is, instead of how we want it to be.

Every day I feel that because I am African, because I am a young woman, a student, a sister, a friend and a lover, I have to be an exemplary specimen in the categories adulthood laid out for me. I must be unlike any other student, unlike any other friend, a woman today instead of a girl.

But why?

Why should I be any of those things—to any extent—if I don’t want to? Why shouldn’t I be all of myself and behave like a child—cry when I want, laugh when I want, love when I want, play Astronaut with my cupboard helmet and do the things that make me happy instead of what I’m “supposed to?”

I don’t want to be a real grown-up, because grown-ups—those grow-up perspectives—destroy the world with all their mind-sets and categories. They kill the animals; create war, hate and injustice. If we could see each other the way we did when we were children, not black or Latino or white or Chinese, not fat or skinny, not frat boy or geek, not anything except the other kid sitting beside me at preschool.

Oh, what a wonderful world that would be! We could share it with the other people sitting beside us in this big world.

We put limitations on life, our personalities and our bodies. Our musical tastes based on categories! Call me immature but I live like a child: I gobble ice cream when it’s cold, I jump into the arms of the boy that I adore and smother him with kisses in public. I splash the puddles though I don’t like the rain. I say the first thing that comes into my head without thinking much about the consequences because those are my childhood lessons.

Childhood is bestowed upon us because of its lessons like faith, joie de vivre, and the trusting hearts we gave to people around us. Never discard these lessons in honor of so-called “maturity!”

Only practice restraint when you may get a spanking. See people as a people, not categories!

Shout “Hoorah to the best type of immaturity!” Kick out all the corners to the box and you’ll never be caged again.

Philppa Hatendi can be reached at phatendi@ut.edu.

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