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Oh, To Be A Child Again

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Oh, To Be A Child Again

I don’t remember speaking much as a little girl. I wasn’t one to fill the air with chatter. In fact, I didn’t play like other children did. You would usually find my nose buried in a book or just absorbed in a quiet observation of the world around me. I spoke only when it was necessary. My childhood was a time of half-formed words and fleeting sentences. But even in the silence, I was learning – not just from the structured lessons in the classroom, but from the ebb and flow of life unfolding around me.

After my father passed, I had to grow up fast. Grief does that to you. There were moments
when I felt the weight of the future pressing down on my young shoulders and everything
suddenly became more urgent. I needed to understand and navigate the complexities of this world. I wanted to grow up so I could take care of my mother, even though she was taking care of me and already doing a fine job of it. There was an uneasiness, a restlessness that took over me. I wanted to step into the shoes of adulthood and live those lives I’d only seen in films.

So when I left home at 22, I thought I was ready. In retrospect, maybe I am, but more often
than not, I crave the simple innocence of being a child again. Sometimes, I’m ready to take on the world. Other times, I lose my balance, and I need my mother’s embrace and constant reassurance that everything works out in the end. Working around children makes this urge to rekindle the child in me stronger, the child I never was or allowed myself to be. On some days, it’s easy. I’m 5 again, learning how to speak and not only when spoken to. On other days, I have to show up for myself and remind myself to eat, sleep and drink water. I think about what my childhood was like and I wonder if I missed it all—the magic, the sunshine, the laughter.

I realise that perhaps I am now, in my way, rediscovering what it means to be a child again. I am learning how to roam carefree along sunlit paths, be careless in the care of another, dance without reservations and not care what people think of me. I’m letting my curiosity lead me into wholesome adventures and finding myself along the way.

So, what is my point?

Let children be children. There’s no need to rush their journey into adulthood. Dress them like children, protect their minds, encourage their imagination, and take them outside. Savour their childhood, don’t rush it. Don’t let them jump the process too. The world will tell them they need to grow up fast, but you must tell them they’re welcome to take their time. Still, you must let them understand when it is finally time to grow up. It’s a balance.

In the encouragement of your children, you might find that the inner child in you also longs to dance and play. Don’t suppress it. After all, children see the world with the clearest eyes. They see it not just for what it is but for what it could be. What better way to live than to open your eyes, look upward and realise that no matter how old you get, you’re still a child at heart? That every time you give yourself the grace to embrace the playfulness of childhood and don’t take yourself too seriously, the world realigns. Possibilities open up and within that small, sacred space you carve out for yourself, healing begins. Life eases.

Can you see it now? The long road of possibilities stretched out before you. The adventures along the way. Oh, to be a child again!

Picture of  Lola Okunlola

Lola Okunlola

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