I'm almost 21. What does that mean? It means... It means I'm still a lil. And even after next Sunday, I'll still be a lil. It means I can go to bars and casinos, I'm excited about the casino part, I've always been stressed about walking through casinos to get to my hotel room worrying that someone will think I'm dallying and arrest me for being young. And my driver's license flips, so that's cool! And I'll be legally changing my name to Lara Jean Bécar! Can I say how I love that the last syllable of my name matches the first syllable of my name? It's lovely.
I've noticed how children idolize the teenage years. Kids shows are all about high school. Or talking animals. Or super heroes. Ok I guess there's a lot. But just look at Disney Channel! Yes, yes, I know, that's not the best place to go to find quality kids' shows, but we're kidding ourselves if we think that kids don't watch it and love it. Honestly, I'm ecstatic not to be in high school. I'm ecstatic to be turning 21 so I won't be categorized with that stage of life anymore. It's horrible. But it's what young kids want to be.
I was on the bus a few days ago, heading out on a field trip with my class. One of the boys was laughing and a nine year old girl, "G", remarked on how annoying that was. She said he was so immature for laughing, and that the mark of a grown up is that they never laugh. She said she couldn't wait to be old and not laugh and be immature anymore.
I was taken aback.
Grown ups never laugh?!
It actually made me sad to think about. I laugh. The grown ups I know laugh. Granted, we don't throw ourselves on the ground in fits of laughing and throw things off the table and make a grand show of our laughter like some kids do. But we laugh. We laugh hard too, sometimes. So why does she think grown ups never laugh?
And an even better question is, why does she look forward to that?
I think it's sad how much emphasis is put on becoming mature. I'll admit, I do this a lot too. I tell kids to grow up. To act like they belong in summer camp, rather downstairs with all the little ones. But to tell a kid not to laugh anymore, and to make it seem like it's bad to laugh, that just depresses me.
I'm 21. I'm by no means a "grown up" right now. One of my students asked what I do, what my job is. I told him that I teach preschool and go to college. He told me that I'm not a grown up because I go to college. I told him that there are some senior citizens, grandmas and grandpas that go to college. He said they're not grown ups then.
That was a detour. I'm 21. I'm by no means a "grown up" right now. But I think I'm old enough to no longer be considered a child, or at least a "kid". (Remember when you were little and you thought "kid" was older than "child"? I think it's the other way around now...) And I just want everyone to know, I want to make sure that people know I intend to laugh for the rest of my life. I intend to look for things that make me happy and make me feel young. And if this makes me a kid still, in the eyes of this nine year old, so be it. But a life without laughing just sounds horrible.