The most frequent question I have heard during my high school years what like this: what would you like to be when you grow up? Naturally, they meant to ask what I would like to do for a living, but I always took the question literally, and said the very same thing every single time: a little child. But why - they would ask, not understanding. Others at my age would have answered “an adult”, as it was so fashionable back in those days, so I was kind of an exception.
Truth is that I did not want to become a child, but to stay as a child, not wanting to grow up. It was my greatest fear to become an adult, and I still cannot accept growing up. Luckily not in the physical meaning, as I - of course - would like to be an adult, get married, have children, raise them and so on, but I have a strong desire to keep the little child in myself, to keep my soul young. Once a very close friend of mine reassured me after asking the big question and getting my usual response: do not worry Luca, you will never grow up, as I know you.
And why am I so afraid? Because of the pains of growing up. We have to wave farewell to many beloved things and habits, such as our favorite toys and plushies that used to protect us in the darkness of the room at night, or the kindest hiding places where we would go in case we have done something naughty and did not want our parents to punish us for it. We cannot act without consequences, we must start planning our lives, according to others, grow up, go to school, learn a lot then work, establish a family and take care about that until we pass on. But what about the careless years, when we could love anybody without prejudice, when we had honest smiles on our faces, instead of the fake ones we use to cover up our real, much more sophisticated feelings? When we could cry for anything without shame and go sit in mommy’s lap for comfort and solace? They all fade away as the years go by, unable to come back but only in the shape of slowly shredding memories. By the end of our lives we have nothing but them.
But can anything give us relief from these pains? As I have only 19 years behind my back, I can only hope for a remedy in the shape of my future husband, children, grandchildren, all my family and friends. At last, we have something worthwhile in our adulthood, which encourages all of us to continue. For me, the most important thing still is to keep the child inside of me alive and kicking, young and strong, as I know she will always be here for me, no matter what, and will help me see new wonders of the world each day, with always renewing energy, hope and curiosity, just as she did in the last 19 years. Maybe this will ease my pains of growing up but getting older only on the outside.