“It’s so much easier being a kid,” the priest insisted.
“Nooooo,” protested a few of the children who had assembled near the altar before their weekly children’s mass at our church yesterday morning.
“If you turn around, I’ll bet you’ll find a lot of people who disagree,” he said. The kids turned around, and the grown-ups sitting in the pews laughed.
“Do you work? Do you cook? Do you clean?” he asked. “I’ll bet you make a mess,” he chuckled, before handing the Bible over to one of the little boys to carry as the group wandered to the room in the back of the church.
Is it easier being a kid? I dunno. Sure it’s easier not having to pay the mortgage or make sure there’s enough milk in the fridge, but I can eat cookies before dinner and go on any web site I feel like, but my kids can’t. Not without retribution, anyhow. And I don’t have to do algebra (yuck) or put on musty shorts in the middle of the day and run around the track behind the school if I don’t feel like it.
Best of all, I don’t have to go through puberty again.
Now that I’m well into adulthood, if I had a year to live over again, I’d choose when I was nine. That’s the year I started playing soccer, I helped my brother build a tree fort, and I went to summer camp where I won Indian Leg Wrestling contests. (I know… it was 1976 and we didn’t know any better then). Best of all, it was before puberty came and ruined it all. Bras, periods, boys. Blah.
But it was also the year when the boys’ gym teacher gave my friend Paula and me grief because we chose the option to play soccer with the boys rather than field hockey with the girls. (No slapshots? What’s the point?) And it was the year that one of my brother’s friends peed on my head from our tree fort above me. Yes: On. My. Head.
If I was a grown-up, I’d have retribution for both acts of injustice. But I was nine (and it was the 70’s before anti-bullying rules and when Title IX still ticked quite a few men off) and there wasn’t much I could do about it. Despite all that, it was a good year, perhaps because adulthood wasn’t looming.
I wonder if enough has changed to make childhood easier on kids.
As I drove a group of boys to the lake to swim after school on Friday, I listened to them talk about the fifth grade puberty video they had seen that day in school:
“They’d say something great — ‘You’ll grow big and strong’ — and then say something bad — ‘You’ll have body odor’,” announced one of the boys. “Hey, you’ll be strong, but you’ll smell!” he added to laughter from the other boys. Then to accentuate his point, he began singing, “Every rose has its thorn…”
Is it easier being a kid? Maybe. Maybe not. I suppose it depends on the kid, the parents, the school and whether or not the boy who lives down the street wants to pee on your head when you’re just trying to go home and sneak a cookie before dinner.
Share, share: Do you think it’s easier being a kid?