I’m not a baby anymore, but I’m not exactly grown up either, am I?
I might be the first born, and maybe I’m supposed to be a role model to my younger siblings, but it’s not always easy to live up to your high expectations.
You talk to other grown ups about wanting to tame me, but when you think about it, can you really seriously blame me?
Do you think it’s easy for me to listen to you and obey the first time you ask? Most of the time, I’m so wrapped up in wonder at what would happen if I pushed that button or whether I could jump a little further off the couch if I tried once more, I don’t even hear you calling my name. I would never ignore you on purpose.
Don’t you think I’d stop biting my nails on my own if it was really that easy a thing to do? I am embarrassed that my fingers look so chewed up and those hangnails hurt like somethin’ else. But I can’t help it, I just find myself picking at them when my mind wanders off or I think about having to see my teacher after the reading test, or missing the goal in soccer last weekend, or all the ways I disappointed you at dinner last night.
And why in the world do you get so mad when you catch me climbing? When I see something in my way- whether it’s a gate, or a fence, or a brick wall, all I want to do is try my best to scale that obstacle. Don’t you ever want to go beyond all the barriers people put in your way? Why are they there in the first place? If I keep both my feet on the ground all the time, how will I ever reach for the sky like you keep telling me to?
I’ve finally come to terms with raising my hand when I have something important to say. But sometimes, I don’t get called on, and my brilliant idea will never get heard. I can now manage to color (mostly) in the lines. But I really want to create my own art and tell my own story, not just finish someone else’s dumb illustrations.
Please try to be patient with me. It’s so hard to harness my excitement when I encounter new things. It’s impossible to restrain my unbridled joy when I discover something in a place I probably I shouldn’t have been. It’s downright unnatural for me to repress my compulsion to touch, explore, and conquer everything that challenges me.
And please understand that while I’m getting pretty tough as I grow, I do need to cry sometimes. My feelings are still bigger than I am and they tend to get pretty overwhelming when I’m frustrated or I feel like you’re being unfair. I just want you to treat me like you treat the other kids in our family. I know I’m older, I should get it by now, but I want time and attention too. And even though I tell you I’m getting too old for cuddles, I don’t actually mind them if you decide you aren’t over it yet.
I know you want me to think before I act. Or be less annoying in general. But most of the time, my impulses move a lot quicker than my brain. Does that really ever go away? Or do you just get used to second guessing your reaction to everything when you become a grown up? Does doing the exact opposite of what you really want to do become second nature when you get older? If that is true, then I think I’d rather just stay nine, thank you very much.
You say you always have my best interest in mind. But sometimes I wonder whether you spend so much time trying to teach me how to behave, you don’t realize there is a lot you can learn from me as well. I hope you’re listening better than I do.