Grownups! Everyone remembers them. How strange and even sad it is that we never became what they were: beings noble, infallible, and free. We never became them. One of the things we discover as we live is that we never become anything different from what we are. We are no less ourselves at forty than we were at four, and because of this we know grownups as Grownups only once in life: during our own childhood. We never meet them in our lives again, and we will miss them always.
What if there were no grownups? Suppose the whole idea of grownups was an illusion? What if their money was really just playground marbles, their business deals no more than baseball-card trades, their wars only games of guns in the park? What if they were all still snotty-nosed kids inside their suits and dresses? Christ, that couldn't be, could it? It was too horrible to think about.
The most striking difference between little ones and grownups is that little ones cannot worry, and they cannot worry because they have no past and no future. They live only in the present moment. Just watch children. If they play, they play and don't even hear us call them and don't notice anything that is going on around them. If they eat, they eat; if they sleep, they sleep. There is a beautiful English word which describes how they do whatever they do, they do it 'whole-heartedly', whereas grownups always are half-hearted.
Maria von Trapp
To both the racist and the puritan, childhood is not a time of life that we grow out of, as the life of the child grows out of the life of the parent or as a plant grows out of the soil, but a time and state of consciousness to be left behind, to cut oneself off from... The child may be joyous, the man must be sober and self-denying; the child may be free, the man is to be "responsible"; the child may be candid in his feelings, the man must be polite, restrained, mindful of the demands of convention; the child may be playful, the man must be industrious. I am not necessarily objecting to the manly virtues, but I am objecting that they should be so exclusively assigned to grownups, and that grownups should be so exclusively restricted to them. A man may have all the prescribed adult virtues and, if he lacks the childhood virtues, still be a dunce and a bore and a liar.
But grownups were always in a turmoil, every possible action muddied over by thoughts of the consequences, by self-doubt, by selfimage, by feelings of love and responsibility. Every possible choice seemed to have drawbacks, and sometimes he didn't understand why the drawbacks were drawbacks. It was very hard.
This is not a game, ... Debt has become a part of who we are. It's become that spoiled child in the grocery store with their lip stuck out: 'I want it. I want it. I deserve it because I breathe air.' And, well, that's an uphill climb in our culture right now, to go against that and say, 'Hey, let's be grownups here. Let's be mature, learn to delay pleasure, save up and pay for things.'
When you're a child, grownups always tell you that "sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you". They say it as if it's a kind of spell that's going to protect you. I've never seen the logic of it. Cuts and bruises quickly disappear. You forget all about them. The psychological wounds inflicted by bullies with words go much deeper.
Next time I'll just send the three of you e-mails. What was I thinking when I decided to have this meeting? (Acheron) Oh, I know. That men who are a couple of thousand years old could actually behave like grownups? (Nick) (Zarek elbowed Nick in the stomach.) Oops. Involuntary arm spasm. (Zarek)
Naturally, grown-up citizens are concerned about the beatniks and delinquents. ... The question is why the grownups do not, more soberly, draw the same conclusions as the youth. Or, since no doubt many people are quite clear about the connection that the structure of society that has becoming increasingly dominant in our country is disastrous to the growth of excellence and manliness, why don't more people speak up and say so?
We've educated children to think that spontaneity is inappropriate. Children are willing to expose themselves to experiences. We aren't. Grownups always say they protect their children, but they're really protecting themselves. Besides, you can't protect children. They know everything.
Perhaps a modern society can remain stable only by eliminating adolescence, by giving its young, from the age of ten, the skills, responsibilities, and rewards of grownups, and opportunities for action in all spheres of life. Adolescence should be a time of useful action, while book learning and scholarship should be a preoccupation of adults.
We all faced painful ethical challenges before we even knew how to spell our names. There were tough choices. Tradeoffs. Confusing signals regarding how to live one's life. And here we are now, today, still struggling. Still trying to sort things out. Still trying to work our way through life effectively. About the only thing that has changed is the scope of the problem. There's more at stake now. And we're in a position, as grownups, to do a lot more-good or bad-for ourselves, our organization, our world. But we still must wrestle with our imperfect ethics.
We can surely no longer pretend that our children are growing up into a peaceful, secure, and civilized world. We've come to the point where it's irresponsible to try to protect them from the irrational world they will have to live in when they grow up. The children themselves haven't yet isolated themselves by selfishness and indifference; they do not fall easily into the error of despair; they are considerably braver than most grownups. Our responsibility to them is not to pretend that if we don't look, evil will go away, but to give them weapons against it.
Leonora is the grownups' version of Cinderella. She doesn't take crap from any ugly stepsisters. She doesn't sit indoors waiting to be rescued by prince charming. Oh, no, she rescues prince charming, Florestan, who's locked up in a dungeon by his archenemy, Pizarro. Cinderella was fun when we were little girls, played with dolls and believed in passive fairytales. Now that we're grown women who play with toys, it's only fit to believe in active fairytales.
There is the myth that writing books for children is easier than writing books for grownups, whereas we know that truly great books for children are works of genius, whether it's 'Alice in Wonderland' or the 'Gruffalo' or 'Northern Lights.' When it's a great book, it's a great book, whether it's for children or not.
One thing is certain: for many of those who came back from WWII, the music of Frank Sinatra was no consolation for their losses. Some had lost friends. Some had lost wives and lovers. All had lost portions of their youth. More important to the Sinatra career the girls started marrying the men who came home. Bobby socks vanished from many closets. The girls who wore them had no need anymore for imaginary lovers; they had husbands. Nothing is more embarrassing to grownups than the passions of adolescence, and for many, Frank Sinatra was the passion.
My daughter is seven, and some of the other second-grade parents complain that their children don't read for pleasure. When I visit their homes, the children's rooms are crammed with expensive books, but the parent's rooms are empty. Those children do not see their parents reading, as I did every day of my childhood. By contrast, when I walk into an apartment with books on the shelves, books on the bedside tables, books on the floor, and books on the toilet tank, then I know what I would see if I opened the door that says 'PRIVATE-GROWNUPS KEEP OUT': a child sprawled on the bed, reading.
My daughter is seven, and some of the other second-grade parents complain that their children don't read for pleasure. When I visit their homes, the children's rooms are crammed with expensive books, but the parent's rooms are empty. Those children do not see their parents reading, as I did every day of my childhood. By contrast, when I walk into an apartment with books on the shelves, books on the bedside tables, books on the floor, and books on the toilet tank, then I know what I would see if I opened the door that says 'PRIVATE--GROWNUPS KEEP OUT': a child sprawled on the bed, reading.
A month ago, Gavin had given his employer four weeks' notice. "I'll get a job around here, " he'd told her. "Something low-stress, part-time, maybe. We're not paying rent, and Dad's left us plenty. You should quit, too." A year earlier this news would have filled her with delicious, full fat, chocolate-coated joy. But now, after a grueling routine of shitty work, shitty- weird home life in a house where the shadow of a dead boy walked more solidly than the grownups, shitty headaches, shitty worry about a husband who couldn't keep his dick out of other women, the golden offer just weirded Laine out. She didn't trust it.
Stephen M. Irwin
The child, screaming for refuge, senses how feeble a shelter the twig hut of grown-up awareness is. They claim strength, these parents, and complete sanctuary. The weeping earth itself knows how desperate is the child's need for exactly that sanctuary. How deep and sticky is the darkness of childhood, how rigid the blades of infant evil, which is unadulterated, unrestrained by the convenient cushions of age and its civilizing anesthesia. Grownups can deal with scraped knees, dropped ice-cream cones, and lost dollies, but if they suspected the real reasons we cry they would fling us out of their arms in horrified revulsion. Yet we are small and as terrified as we are terrifying in our ferocious appetites.
I wanted to find something of the beauty of myth that we've left behind, carry its shreds before us all, so we could acknowledge it, somehow bring it back to life. I wanted to delve back into that world that cradled us when we were young enough to still touch it, when trolls lived under creek bridges, faeries fluttered under mushroom caps, and the Tooth Fairy only came once you were truly sleeping. I wanted to see if enchantment was somehow still there, simply waiting to be reached. When I felt my loss, I realized that if I could do anything in this life, I wanted to travel he world, searching for those who were still awake in that old dreamtime, and listen to their stories - because I had to know that there were grownups out there who still believed that life could be magical. And in that moment I decided: I am going to find the goddamn faeries.
But we left camp after a while and we was driving in a real spooky place cause all the roads up near camp are dark and in the woods and we had to drive for a while to get to a highway cause there was no street lights or anything and nothing but woods and my dad asked me if I had a good time and I told him I did, but that's really a lie and I felt like telling him what it was like at that mean old camp, but I thought he'd get mad and tell me I'm making it up and I thought I'd tell him some other time like Febuary and cause I didn't think he'd believe me anyway, but so I changed my mind and then I thought I should tell him now cause he'll wonder howcome I never told him sooner, so when he said that's a nasty gash and when he said what did I do, stumble on the trail and hit a big rock or something? I told him no and I told him that lots of bad things happened to me at camp and that I never want to go there again cause I hate it and I almost cried. But he said I always had a bibid emigination cause he's sure it wasn't that bad! And I don't know about those big words either, but what he said made me kind of mad cause grownups always think they know what happened to you better than you do yourself.
Timothy Victor Richardson
The summer ended. Day by day, and taking its time, the summer ended. The noises in the street began to change, diminish, voices became fewer, the music sparse. Daily, blocks and blocks of children were spirited away. Grownups retreated from the streets, into the houses. Adolescents moved from the sidewalk to the stoop to the hallway to the stairs, and rooftops were abandoned. Such trees as there were allowed their leaves to fall - they fell unnoticed - seeming to promise, not without bitterness, to endure another year. At night, from a distance, the parks and playgrounds seemed inhabited by fireflies, and the night came sooner, inched in closer, fell with a greater weight. The sound of the alarm clock conquered the sound of the tambourine, the houses put on their winter faces. The houses stared down a bitter landscape, seeming, not without bitterness, to have resolved to endure another year.
The world is changing, I said. It is no longer a world just for boys and men. Our women are respected here, said the father. We would never let them tramp the world as American women do. There is always someone to look after the Olinka woman. A father. An uncle. A brother or nephew. Do not be offended, Sister Nettie, but our people pity women such as you who are cast out, we know not from where, into a world unknown to you, where you must struggle all alone, for yourself. So I am an object of pity and contempt, I thought, to men and women alike. Furthermore, said Tashi's father, we are not simpletons. We understand that there are places in the world where women live differently from the way our women do, but we do not approve of this different way for our children. But life is changing, even in Olinka, I said. We are here. He spat on the ground. What are you? Three grownups and two children. In the rainy season some of you will probably die. You people do not last long in our climate. If you do not die, you will be weakened by illness. Oh, yes. We have seen it all before. You Christians come here, try hard to change us, get sick and go back to England, or wherever you come from. Only the trader on the coast remains, and even he is not the same white man, year in and year out. We know because we send him women. Tashi is very intelligent, I said. She could be a teacher. A nurse. She could help the people in the village. There is no place here for a woman to do those things, he said. Then we should leave, I said. Sister Corrine and I. No, no, he said. Teach only the boys? I asked. Yes, he said, as if my question was agreement. There is a way that the men speak to women that reminds me too much of Pa. They listen just long enough to issue instructions. They don't even look at women when women are speaking. They look at the ground and bend their heads toward the ground. The women also do not 'look in a man's face' as they say. To 'look in a man's face' is a brazen thing to do. They look instead at his feet or his knees.