What is Childhood really?
I look around me and I see the Age of Innocence. That is how I classify the time in your life labelled ‘Childhood’.
However there is another part of Childhood that I witness regularly in the kid’s groups I run. It’s an occurrence that often makes me laugh, even though I’m sure I shouldn’t. Two six year old girls arguing. It is meaningless. Give it a week and the pair are unlikely to even remember what words they actually used.
This is the difference between Childhood and ‘Adulthood’.
Thinking back my first realisation of this difference occurred in my opening year of university. You’d have thought moving away from home would have emphasised a transition away from childhood. But it didn’t. Not really. Instead it was the girls from the flat below in student halls.
Each flat had twelve bedrooms. Mine was rarely, if ever, completely full. Instead, for most the time, it was myself and five guys. The floor below consisted almost completely of girls.
One evening, coming back from a late seminar, I went into our oddly large kitchen to get a drink, and discovered two of the guys I lived with and around five or six girls from the flat below. All medical students of one sort or another , they were getting ready for a night out.
A blonde girl, sat on top of one of the tables with a drink, asked me whether I had seen the latest episode of a certain soap opera. It’s strange that I not only remember her hair colour, but also the amused facial expression she was wearing as she casually asked that question.
The answer was “no”, which seemed to encourage sniggering from the others in the room.
I went back into my room confused and googled the soap. It wasn’t long before I discovered that the TV show was beginning a childhood epilepsy storyline, which had begun in the previous night’s episode with a seizure.
I had told the guys that I lived with about my condition, as I felt it was only fair. I wasn’t expecting it to be a topic of conversation amongst everyone around us. And so it was a question there and then whether or not to go back into the kitchen and confront not only her about her insinuation, but also the two guys for telling them.
It was whilst I weighed up the pros and cons of potential courses of action that I realised that I wasn’t a child anymore, and that this wouldn’t be a tiff at the school gates.
Instead I was an adult.
It means verbal arguments with others are met with a harsh reprimanding from those older than you, potential grounding or temporary removal of possessions. Just generally being told off for a bit.
This means that verbal arguments are much more harsh and personal, that they linger on and on both in your head and between the pair of you. Any relationship is permanently damaged. Hatred or ill feeling will always exist between you. Inevitable.
Leaving childhood behind is the same as leaving behind those who gave you a dressing-down.
The day that you become your own scolder is the day Childhood ends.