When childhood dies, its corpses are called adults and they enter society, one of the politer names of hell. That is why we dread children, even if we love them. – Brian W. Aldiss
Maturity is overrated. – Jim Davis, Garfield
It is a truth universally acknowledged in modern life that being a child is better in every way than being an adult. Children nowadays have credit cards, iPhones, the ability to get emancipated, and that’s only the serious stuff. Children, unlike adults, have still managed to keep their sense of wonder and fun, often based on quite simple and humble things. Children are more sensitive and sophisticated than adults have ever managed to be. In some cases, I think, children would do a better job of parenting than some parents. So, why is it, that when we adults see this phenomenon happen before our very eyes, we still have our usual hang ups about things like growing up and maturity?
Adults, of course, keep insisting that they are great at having fun, in fact, too much of it. However, whatever fun, adult-only activities we’ve managed to create, do not come with warning signs, even though danger is what they inevitably bring. I find it ridiculous that plastic bags come with the message, “This bag is not a toy.” No child would be so unsophisticated as to think it is one. He or she knows what is a toy, and what is a curiosity. Children make great teachers in divergent thinking. Once they’ve reached the age when they are beyond putting everything into their mouths or around their heads, they look at objects and see what use may be made of them. We adults, on the other hand, need a precise invention, for a precise thing. We make millions of unimportant inventions, sell them, and make fortunes, to go out and buy other unimportant inventions.
And we call that maturity. Maturity is the word, the concept we use to console ourselves of our stupidity and to lord over creatures who are far better than us in every way. I don’t believe any one ever grows up in any way, unless in an anatomically vertical direction. You just grow into things. There is no maturity, there are just choices. What remains is criticizing or being envious of our previous choices. Life is a series of decisions you will or will not have the power to make. We dread the sophistication of children which is why we look down upon them, literally of course, but also figuratively. We keep on insisting on respect and equality among adults and yet, we frequently fail to extend that respect towards children. We patronize them, some of us even harm them. And yet, we forget, that it is not because they are weaker or less intelligent than us. It is because they are trusting, curious, faithful. Easily loved, easily pleased. Easily loving, easily pleasing.
Some of us, who’ve still managed to retain some of the fine qualities of being children and thus, prevented ourselves from becoming fully corpse-like, also feel that patronising ire from full-fledged corpes. These are people who tell you fun isn’t fun unless it is dangerous, work isn’t work unless it has practical value. Curiosity is to be reserved for weekends. Relationships have to be duly notarized. Growing up means when you realise that the weight of the world is too big, and that you can’t do anything about it because you are too small, so you should grab all you can and run to some place you paid a lifetime of premium for. To summarize, growing up is not when you lose your ability to remember things or care, though it often is that. It is when you lose your imagination. Imagination isn’t something only reserved for the arty. It is the ability to accept and explore the unknown in life. And don’t we adults keep reminding ourselves to do just that?