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June 24, 2014

I was walking towards Yorkville the other day, taking the same route as I always do, when I felt two kids zoom pass me. They were probably no older than 8 or 9. As I turned my head this way and that, I saw that one kid was on his bicycle while the other was on a manual scooter. The kid on the bicycle had a helmet on while the other kid was scooting down the sidewalk with one hand holding on to an XL Slurpee.

Left in their dust, I smiled to myself, thinking how glorious it would be to be a child again. Indeed, those were the days–scooting down the sidewalk with your pals, wind in your hair, and slurpee at the side.

I’ve written multiple posts in the past about how as I grow older and older, I find myself wanting to be younger and, well,  younger. My brother is the only person who witnesses this daily struggle between the “grown up” me and the “younger” me. Every day, he is subjected to the “grown up” me who tells him that he can’t go play basketball because he has to study for his exams. And yet, every day, he is also subjected to the “younger” me who giggles and bounces around the house, challenging him to arm wrestles and staring contests.

I should probably mention now that he is 14 years old and does not enjoy arm wrestles and staring contests with his sister but does with other 14-year-old girls.

The other day, I was sitting on his bed, talking to him about something, when I started laughing at my own joke and waving my arms about. This inevitably made my brother stare at me blankly and prompted him to say,

You’re never going to get married. NO, you’re never going to be a in a relationship.

I said, “Yes, I will!!!!!!!” and ran away.

How grown up of me.

Fast forward two days, and I’m sitting in my brother’s room again, blabbering off about something while he tries to kick me off his bed.

YO MAN (add some more “yo’s” and “F–k’s” here), go to Top Shop and get yourself some nice clothes and GROW UP. I’m even more MATURE than you ARE, and you’re the ADULT here.

This, of course, prompted me to laugh so hard that I fell off the bed.

My brother is at this age where he feels like (and wants to be) an adult. I remember that feeling well because growing up, I often felt older than I was. Heck, I wanted to be older than I was.

Fast forward another couple of days to this past Sunday, and I’m rolling down the block on my new ride, my 9-year-old cousin’s scooter with a bunch of kids by my side. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think I was either a really cool mom or an overgrown child–you’d probably settle with the latter. The wind in my hair, my right foot firmly rooted on the body of the contraption, my left foot pumping away and then resting on the back brake–man, it was just like back in the day.

But sadly, no slurpee was in my left hand. I’ve always needed both hands to scoot.

My family and I spent all of Sunday at my cousin’s. It was the weekly family get-together, but this week, it was held in Newmarket. In the afternoon, my 16-year-old cousin (whom I regard as my little sister because we are very close) and I gathered the kids up and took them to the neighbourhood park. The kids waited in the driveway while I gathered my baseball cap and sunglasses and made sure to let the parents know where we were going. When I walked out of the house, I noticed that a couple of the neighbourhood kids had joined us as well. The kids started walking before I had caught up to them. I yelled after them to wait for me and made sure to count how many kids were mine. Then off we went to the park, and this was where the “wind in my hair” scooting thing came into the picture.

When we got to the park, I made sure to lay down some ground rules. The two oldest boys (my brother and my 9-year-old cousin whose scooter I was using) ran off to the basketball court. My 16-year-old cousin, TL, stayed with me to play with the three younger kids, 6-year-olds C and D and 3-year-old Q.

You know, there’s nothing like playing on the playground to make you feel both like a kid and an adult all at once. One minute, you’re running as fast as you can, trying not to look behind you for fear that one of the kids is on your back and will tag you “it.” The next minute, you’re feeling the ache in your bones from lifting one kid after another on and off the monkey bars. One minute you’re tumbling down the grassy hill, and the next minute, you’re holding a babe in your arms, trying to sooth his “tummy ache.”

Taking care of three kids for the afternoon was exhausting, but it gave me a glimpse into my future. Three kids is what I want. I want a huge family, one full of non-stop chatter and laughter, and that was exactly what my afternoon was. Q would tug at my skirt, C would ask me to teach her to go down the fireman’s pole on the jungle gym, and D would need some smooth talking to coax him out of the bush where he has gone to mope over the fact that it was not yet his turn with the scooter.

The sweetest moments were all had on the swings. D and C would sit on the grown-up swings while baby Q was placed on the little swing. The kids loved it when I pushed them, always screaming “higher” and “higher!” Their laugh rang in my ears and filled me with happiness. The swings were my favourite when I was a child; in fact, they still are now. TL and I reminisced about our younger days, when she used to live downtown, and we would hang out almost all the time. Our dads would take us with them to the tennis courts, and while the two of them played tennis, TL and I would hang out at the nearby jungle gym, swinging higher than the tree tops.

D got off the swings and ran to play on the jungle gym. I yelled after him to stay close. I then got on the swings and asked C if she wanted to learn how to push herself. “How can I push myself?” she asked me. I told her to watch me and showed her when to put her legs out and when to lean forward. Soon, I was soaring pass tree tops, just like when I was 8. I couldn’t help but giggle.

C slowly began to propel herself forward. TL stood to the side and watched us; she said, “You were the one who taught me how to push myself, too.”

And in that moment, swinging and swinging, I realized that I was no longer a kid–that despite running around with the kids all day, feeling like one of them, I was still the “grown up.”

When TL told me that I was the one who taught her how to swing, I felt like how a grandmother would feel having taught generations of kids how to do something.

Ever since I got into Teacher’s College, I have been grappling with the fact that I will be soon be teaching kids who are only a handful of years younger than I am. How can I teach when I feel just like one of them?? 

But the thing is I think I will always feel this young. I will never let go of this part of me, but I think even if I did want to, I would never be able to.


From Humans of New York

From Humans of New York

“See C-? I taught T- how to swing and now I’m teaching you, too.”

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