Most of us have many reasons to love our childhood, and want to re-visit it from time to time. For me one of the reasons is it was a time I did not have to think about the problems, that came along after we are all grown up. For me it was a time when I felt safe, and warm in the bosom of my mother and father.
Like all little boys I was anxious to grow up of course, but that was because I didn’t know what I know now; mainly I didn’t know I would have to think so much. As children, all many of us had to think about were the simple things like what is mom going to fix for dinner, when is dad coming home to help me fly a kite, how much longer will I get away with pestering my sister — things like that. When we got older, however, our thoughts were harder and not nearly as much fun. After we grew up we had to think about how to make enough money to feed a family, making time to fly that kite with the children, and how to get our sons to stop pestering their sisters.
I have this image that comes into my mind whenever I think about the freedom of my childhood. It is an image that to me is the epitome of that freedom from responsibility childhood is supposed to mean. The image is of me lying in the grass, just soaking up the sun. I am only conscious of the warmth of the summer sun, and the shapes of the clouds passing overhead, and maybe a bird that happens to fly by once in a while. A warm breeze rustles the leaves of a nearby shade tree, and stirs the grass around me. My eyes slowly close, and I drift away to a dreamless sleep, that only someone who has no responsibility can enjoy.
That image came to me again as I watched the young girls and boys file down the isle to accept their diplomas at a high school graduation ceremony, not long ago. I felt a mixture of joy and sadness for those children. Joy, that someone dear to me has climbed the mountain, and now sits on the summit of knowledge. But also a little sadness that they now will have to take on the burdens that come with adulthood.
I recall as a child, teachers and other adults telling me not to be in such a hurry to grow up, and to enjoy the freedom of childhood. Like many of the children I watched walk that isle into adulthood that night, I did not listen. Now like me they will learn the truth about what it truly means to be grown up. In short they will have to start thinking.
Jack Miller is a longtime Sedalia resident whose column will run in the Weekend edition of the Democrat.