A Second Chance at Childhood
Some of Us Have Kids for This Reason, I Think
Do you ever lose your inner child? That part of you that laughs at snowballs and ice cream cones melting in the summer sun, that finds amusement in rude things? Is it even sensible to wonder about this, when we’re all the same person we once were, just with slightly older cells and more memories? Isn’t our inner child still an integral part of us?
Who among us doesn’t feel the tug of a seesaw or a water balloon fight?
A day or two ago, I confided in my wife that perhaps the biggest reason I am excited to become a father (any day now!) is because having a kid will give me carte blanche to be true to myself again. By that, I mean I never really grew up. I’m a giant goofball, the kind of person who, when finding a kindred spirit, gushes obscure movie lines in the proper accents and laughs with abandon at absurdities.
With fellow goofs, I cast aside that guardrail we all automatically erect when we’re in the company of others, not alone with our thoughts. With screwballs-in-arms, I feel a comfort: that of not looking out of place, of having a kindred spirit who also enjoys a good roll in the muckity-muck so disdained by civilized adults.
As a kid, I don’t recall wanting to pass that threshold into grown-up land. I think it drifted across my mind once or twice, like a tiny cloud would the sun on a bright blue day. I bet it’d be nice to eat ice cream whenever I want. When I’m a grown-up, that’s the first thing I’ll do.
It was never about drugs or booze or relationships or driving fast or making money or any of the things you don’t think about as a kid, because — let’s be real— ice cream is the center of a kid’s universe. That, and swings and water slides and Matchbox cars and make believe.
After I was a grown up for a while — after the gravity of providing for someone besides myself set in, and I could no longer make last-minute Maruchan ramen bowls for dinner and call it good — I decided that being an adult isn’t the cat’s meow, after all. All the ice cream in the world couldn’t offset the pain of dealing with taxes and realizing your parents aren’t perfect and that you’re expected to spend the productive years of your life trying to become a kid again (i.e., retire to Golden Acres and play pickleball).
Biological imperatives aside, I wonder if some of us reproduce because we want to have a passable excuse to be childlike ourselves, once again. There’s also a hell of an opportunity to live vicariously through our children, and shake our heads as they make the same mistakes we did.
For me, having a kiddo isn’t about ensuring the survival of our species; we’re doing fine in that regard, I think. It’s about — selfishly, I’ll admit — being responsible for creating a life, guiding it to its full potential, and saying — when I’m dying in my bed, many years from now — I wish I’d fought at Stirling with William Wallace…
Er, I mean… I raised a hell of a good kid, and for that I’m proud.
That, and It sure was fun being a kid again for all those years. I think my second childhood was better than my first. Thanks, kiddo, for coming along and letting me share it with you.
This is but a small piece of my lifelong daily writing practice (Day 122). If you enjoyed this, you may also like some of my other writing.