Sitting in my ten year old cousin’s junior high school gym watching him play basketball I realized two things:
A. None of these dudes know how to play basketball very well because I’ve almost been hit with the ball about four times now and
B. I kind of miss being ten.
Part of me suddenly felt very nostalgic for the days when it was totally acceptable for me to listen to the Annie soundtrack without feeling weird or when my friends wanted to play house. At present, most of them play house for realsies. And they pay their rent. Usually on time.
It’s like nobody told you that one day you wake up and you just are an adult. Suddenly people look at you like you should have all the answers: What are you doing after you graduate? Have you thought about what career you’re going into? Look, I’m having trouble passing a college math class so I can graduate. You think I have my life figured out? I still feel sixteen some days, and it’s no wonder. Before the game, a teacher came up to me, asking me if I was “Erica, the new girl” at their tiny private school where the oldest child might reach fifteen.
A ball whizzes by my head and my little eight-year-old cousin and I duck.
“We’re gonna die,” my little cousins laughs.
“You,” I say, “were so afraid of aliens kidnapping the citizens of Earth last week, so I’m glad that you’ve come to realize that our untimely end will be when a basketball hits us in the face.”
He laughs and, as he tosses back yet another basketball from a game across the court, squeals, “We’re at a safe distance, I think,” then smirks, too smart for his own good. I pinch his arm playfully. After a few minutes of watching me text, my cousin puts his head on my shoulder. “I wish I were older,” he sighs.
“Why?” I ask, clicking my phone off. “Being eight is awesome. All you have to worry about is whether or not you get a good dessert in your lunch.”
“Homework,” he groans and I roll my eyes because OH MY GOD to not have car payments to worry about and instead just remember to fill out a second grade homework packet.
My cousin has boundless energy, the ability to eat anything he wants to (the other day, I watched him eat three giant cookies in one sitting. Then have a juice box. That’s like seven hundred calories, you guys. I gained four pounds looking at him.), and he can watch Disney shows without everyone being like, You’re 24. Why are you watching The Disney Channel?
I’m not saying youth is wasted on the young though. I was one of those kids who only ever wanted to be older. In pre-school I wanted to be in high school, in high school I was ready for college, but now that I’m in college, I’m so ready to get my life started. Whatever kind of Life that’s gonna be. I just didn’t realize how good I had it at ten. Like, what was so bad about just worrying about keeping my room clean and whether or not I miss the first five minutes of Boy Meets World?
My little cousin sighs, “You get to go out and have fun and do whatever you want though.” He pulls at his shirt, “My mom still dresses me in the morning.”
Maybe my cousin’s right. I guess I forget the part where I get to be my own person and put my own outfit together. Because I’m an adult now and I can do adult things. Like eating Nutella from the jar for dinner and not having someone yell at me for it.
OK. I guess I don’t miss being ten after all.