"I mean, you're almost sixteen! You need to learn how to be a kid again," MeMe told me while on a spontaneous trip to the park a few days ago. "I want to," I responded, "but I don't even know where to start. It's been so long since I've properly felt like a kid." Without hesitation, she said, "Kids laugh and play all day and aren't afraid of balancing on the balance bars or pretending the ditch is a pot of lava. Kids roll down a hill and play in the dirt and run around the grass playing airplane. And being a kid also means laughing really hard. I laugh hard all the time, you know. I think you need some more laughter in your life." So that's what we did. In the setting sun of a early autumn day, I balanced on a low metal fence, played airplane until my chest heaved from lack of breath, and climbed a tree. I remembered what it felt like to be a kid again.
Today, I turn sixteen. The number is foreign on my tongue, though at the same time, I feel as if this year has been a long time coming. But now that I'm at this "milestone" age, I regret the times I spent in my younger years being in such a hurry to grow up. I thought grown ups got to do all the cool things and had it all figured out...but now that I'm fast approaching adult-ism, I'm realizing that while it's exciting and new, it's not all that fun. I am still excited (and okay, a little bit or a lot scared too) for what sixteen will bring and the secrets it holds, but the other day, when I was looking at insurance rates, car shopping, researching tax information, and doing business development, I felt so brutally grown up...and I didn't feel ready in the slightest. The next day, though, I was at the park climbing trees and playing tag and acting like a kid in every way. It was wonderful. And no matter how old or grown up someone might feel, I think it's so important to cherish that little bit of kid inside, to know how to have fun using only your imagination and the outdoors. Who knew that my eight year old sister had so much wisdom packed into her tiny body?
I guess I'll stop being all philosophical now and get right to it:
Hi, I'm Carlotta. I'm sixteen today. And I'm learning how to be a kid again.