“Excuse me,” said Polly, walking up to a woman who was staring into a shop window, admiring the Halloween decorations.
“Yes?” asked the women, turning to look at her.
“My name is Polly and I’m a Girl Reporter. I have a question and I would be ever so grateful if you would give me an answer.”
“Will it take long?”
“I’m not sure,” said Polly, truthfully. “I don’t know how long your answer will be.”
“Good point,” said the woman, nodding. “What’s the question?”
“There are two, questions actually, but the first one is merely there to open the door to the second one.”
“Okay. What’s your first question?”
“Do you consider yourself to be an adult?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Is that the second question?”
“No, it’s just a kind of sidebar.”
“I’m over 21 and I have responsibilities. That makes me an adult, I guess.”
“This is not the second question either but what’s your name?”
“Thank you, Ms Marge. Now here’s the second question,” said Polly, scribbling on her note pad. “How do adults forget what it’s like to be a kid?”
“Why do adults forget what it’s like to play and have fun? How can they forget what it’s like to be the child they once were?”
“That’s a very good question,” said Marge, thoughtfully. “First of all, children are free to be themselves all of the time. Kids don’t have to take care of others, work, pay bills, be sure the laundry’s done, make sure there’s food to eat, the animals are cared for, there are clothes to wear, appointments to show up for….”
“Excuse me, but being an adult sounds terrible…and hard,” said Polly
“It can be both, sometimes. Being an adult makes being free, in the way children are free, impossible. Plus, when you’re a child, unless you live in fear and have mean and horrific parents, you don’t know about all the bad and sad things that can happen in life, all the things you can’t do anything about.”
“You mean like saving the whales?”
“Something like that,” answered Ms Marge. “When you’re an adult you know about all kinds of things and that has a big impact on the way you see the world. It’s about innocence. Once innocence is gone, childhood crumbles. Kids who experience war grow up quickly, as do hungry and abused children. Besides, I bet you can’t remember what it was like to crawl and be carried around, can you?”
Polly shook her head. “I can’t,” she said.
“Do you wish you could eat in a highchair again? Play with the baby toys you once loved? As you grow you put certain things aside. It has to be that way. You are no longer a baby, so you don’t do baby things. I’m an adult, so I no longer do childish things. The baby and the child I used to be no longer define me. Those stages of life simply got me to where I am right now. I don’t need those parts of myself any longer. I mean, I’d look rather silly dragging my worn out bunny with me, don’t you agree?”
Polly laughed and nodded. “I understand what you’re saying.”
“It’s also about brain development. Our brains change as we mature and grow up. Children can’t think the way adults do, that’s why they run in front of cars, put their hands on hot stoves and generally get into trouble. Adults have to protect children until their brains to grow up. Children do not have experience, everything is new to them, so they don’t know what danger is.”
“So, when people say, they want to get in touch with their inner child, what do they mean?” asked Polly.
“They mean they want to lighten up. They want to play, have fun, try not to worry so much. They want to relax. They mean that they want to look outside of themselves and see the trees and flowers the way they did when they were in awe of everything they saw. It means they want to laugh more often and look at things in new, and more open ways. It means to not let life get them down.”
“I’m going to write an article for my class and I’m thankful for your help. Please accept this candy bar,” said Polly, pressing down the edges of the wrapper, “and this picture of an onion, that I drew by myself, as a small token of my gratitude. You have given me a lot to think about and I’m happy you took the time to tell me your answer. Now I know why my parents are so tired all the time. Thank you.”
“It was a pleasure, Polly, Girl Reporter. Thank you for the candy and the beautiful picture of the onion,” said Marge, slipping the picture carefully into her purse. You have a good life.”
“I hope I do,” said Polly, smiling. “You have a good life as well.”
To you, gentle readers, this is the first in a series of interviews, by Polly Blue, Girl Reporter.