By Beth Winze
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E.E. Cummings
Tiny hands reaching for the whipped cream bottle, foam spray splattering everywhere, cookie chunks disintegrating to the floor. Squeals of amusement resonated through the air as the mess left behind anticipated me. I wanted to gripe at the preventable untidiness the customer made, but I could not. As the grandma’s time-worn hands, held the child’s chubby, youthful ones, I could not help but miss being a child. As the grandmother paid, the endearing child, despite the clutter made, stretched, with sparkly, bright eyes, to grasp her treat. The child giggled and scampered over to the sofa to indulge her taste buds. I grinned and recollected back to when I was the young age of six.
No longer do I clutch my grandmother’s hand, or find as much joy in a bowl of frozen yogurt as this child did. I missed the tranquil joy that comes along with being childlike. When did I grow up and abandon finding delight in the little things? It seems like the older I get the more I regret. You can go ahead and say that I am only eighteen and that outlooks like this should not be happening already for me, but honestly, they are. Maybe it is because I feel submerged under piles of scholarship essay drafts, and work agendas. Or maybe it is because young children and their unexplainable ease of elation have been around me more than ordinary. Either way, I miss my younger years.
I recall being told as a pint-sized girl, to never hope to grow up faster than I have to. I, of course, did not take their intelligence and only fantasized of the days when cosmetics, driving, shopping, and being employed would become mine. I coveted growing up faster than I should have. Pondering on why I did this, I could only come up with one answer. I never looked deeper behind all the “glam” that comes with age. I did not see the tension in other’s eyes. I only looked at what they possessed, and anticipated having that. In that case, age was what I craved, and I got it.
There is nothing I can do to stop growing up. But I pine for the days when I would scuttle into mom and dad’s bed on a Saturday morning and snuggle with them until they rolled out of bed. Or the father/daughter dances every year when my mom would place some blush and eye shadow on me, and my dad would dance with me, making me feel like royalty at a ball.
Now, contemplations of college, and the attempt at trying to grasp the thought of moving out inhabit the majority of my mind. I cannot crawl into bed with my parents when I get scared of a thunderstorm, or have mom give me a Band-Aid over a boo-boo that I convince her is really there. I suppose that is what hurts the most about growing up. Those things I continuously took for granted are not there anymore. College is fewer than six months away for me. No more mom tucking me in at night. This is what makes growing up tough. Letting go of the fading familiarities of life.
As that grandma was returning her wallet to her purse and turning to go, I simply said “Make sure that she understands how important appreciating her youth is.” And her grandmother turned to me, rested her hand on my own, and sympathetically said with misty eyes, “Are you missing your youth?” I just nodded and half-smiled back at her as my eyes began to pool tears. “Do not worry about what you have left behind in your youth,” she responded, “but anticipate what is coming up in your future.” She patted my hand and called her grandchild to her side. With that, they strolled out the door together, hand in hand, side by side.
I realize the significance of reminiscing. It does not make it easier to grow up and think about your impending future, but it does not make the upcoming quite as frightening. I am not ready to be mature enough to be on my own. But it is essential to move on to my next phases in my life. As the grandma that associated with me at work said, “Do not worry about what you left behind in your youth, but anticipate what is coming up in your future.” I do not know what my future holds, but as I draft my scholarship essays and work for paychecks, I am only going to appreciate it for how it will spring-board me into my future.