Everybody knows the saying “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” and nothing is more applicable than the privileges of childhood. Looking back on my youth, it seems as if there was an unwritten code of rights and freedoms protecting me from any pain or responsibility. When you’re a kid, you get one free pass to be and do whatever your heart desires, and to see the world through (sticky-fingerprinted) rose-colored glasses.
What I wouldn’t do to be a kid again, when my future was as bright as the sunbeams that hit my over-sunscreened face on the weekend afternoons where the playground was the only place you could find me. If you offered me a one-way ticket to the past, I just might take it. Here are 12 things that I know I took for granted when I was younger, and would definitely go back for any day:
- Having your parents make your lunch.
Take me back to a fridge stocked with weeks worth of juice boxes, and a drawer dedicated entirely to Tupperware that I never had to fill.
- Being able to eat whatever you wanted.
I remember back when “metabolism” was my middle name. Those were the days when my elastic waistband clung to my hipbones for dear life, even after Thanksgiving dinner.
- Birthday parties.
I’m talking “happy birthdays” sung with lisps instead of slurred syllables. Back when you didn’t need a “birthday girl” pin or a shot to solidify another year. I miss homemade cakes and cards and helium inflated happiness.
- Getting praised for small victories.
Think about the fact that at one point, someone actually congratulated you for going to the bathroom and finishing all your dinner.
- Taking naps.
As Taylor Swift once said, “this is me swallowing my pride standing in front of you saying I’m sorry for [those afternoons]”. Mom, I’m so sorry for not seeing how much you loved me when you tried to give me all those naps. I was so, so wrong, and I’ll go back to my cradle any time. Please, just give me one more chance.
- Your unbroken heart.
Back when a Band-Aid could heal any hurt and the only substance you drowned your pain with was Sunny-D.
- Your boundless energy.
Yeah, I’ll run down the street, do 20 jumping jacks, climb that tree, climb that other tree, wrestle my neighbor, swim across the Atlantic, and run the Boston Marathon without getting tired. I may huff and puff, but you better believe I’m going to get up and do it all over again if Mom says I can keep playing.
- Having no exams.
I went through my first ten years of education without ever taking a final exam, and I think those were probably the best ten years of my life.
- Having no responsibilities.
Take me back to when you didn’t have to plan your own appointments, meals, vacations, or even outfits.
- Field trips.
Back when a permission slip brought greater joy than a college acceptance letter.
- Believing in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.
It’s weird that we used to get excited about strangers breaking and entering into our homes, but it really did make the holidays about 10x more exciting.
- Your pure trust.
As a kid you have faith in everything: your family, your friends, your foundation, and your future. Everything is beautiful and everything is safe. It’s a celestial thing to be so unbroken, before we realize that we are fragile and the world is rapacious.
What a wonderful time we had before puberty smacked us in the face and left us floundering in piles of textbooks and unpaid bills. Back in the day there was no way for us to know just how good we had it, and we’ll just have to spend the rest of our lives regretting just how for granted we took childhood’s little luxuries. Adulthood is scary and independence is bittersweet, but our futures are still as bright as ever, and, wouldn’t you know, sometimes I can even still get my mom to pack me my lunch.