I'm a Big Kid Now7:30 AM
|I heart Sarah. She's one of my besties. And she's pretty cool to boot.|
Today I ran around with a bunch of kids. I swung out on the church swings, teasing the little guys about cowboy boots and did you know that there's a brand of cowboy hats called Bailey? I hugged a bunch of little girls. I made a shy girl smile big by chatting with her about the resident outlawed outlaws, the Burrito Bandido and the Black Bandana (we're in the middle of an Old West VBS them, here).
I started out alone, on the swings, just sitting by myself, kicking my purple-argyle-sock-ed feet because my boots fell off, and then a group of the little guys who swear they can't stand me came out specifically to swing -- and oh, I just happened to be there.
I'm onto this, brother. I can read between the lines. Every time you tell me I'm weird and have girl cooties I know deep down in your heart you want me to keep annoying you. The girls are easier on me. They tell me outright how much they love me.
I laugh because I used to be the same way.
Remember when anyone in their teens was awesomer to you than all the teen idols put together? Remember those days when that pretty older girl smiled at you and asked how you were, and how you beamed like anything because she noticed me!!!? Remember when any guy who was over thirteen made your ten-year-old heart an easy target for imaginary Cupid arrows? (Why, Lord?) Remember how second nature it was to adore those older kids in your life?
Somewhere between my adoration and my growth, I ended up that Older Kid. I went from walking in the hallowed shadow of my heroes to casting one myself. Somehow, I hit that mysterious age of seventeen, an age where you'll always be guaranteed a celebrity slot among anyone middle school-aged and younger. All those wasted days of looking for acceptance and popularity -- if you'd have only told me I'd earn it after a certain birthday, I'd have lived a much happier childhood.
It's funny how the perception of younger kids sees only the insurmountable age of their elder acquaintances, earning them instant awesomeness. I used to think, when younger, that older girls seemed cool because they were cool; I never thought to check whether it was the age gap that attributed to them coolness where none could be rightfully found. Their hair -- how did they manage to do it like that? Their personalities -- how did they iron out all the fear and shyness? Their resident awesomeness -- where did one come by such a stunning find?
My line of thinking went something like, "When I grow up, I want to be seventeen."
Seventeen was a million years away. The accompanying aura of amazingness seemed even further. Even if I hit that age, I figured, I'd never be half as cool as the blond, high-heeled, mascara-ed teens flocking out the door to youth group on Sundays -- or the college students leading the group singing -- or the big girls who gave their testimonies and mentored us little girls during special conferences and Bible studies. I'd just be a gray bump on the wall, unnoticed, awkward, useless to society at large.
Surprise, surprise, my seventeenth birthday passed with little internal fanfare. I woke up unchanged, for the most part, though I usually don't scrutinize myself very closely in the morning; it settles a ghastly little pall over my early morning optimism. Still, inexplicably, I find myself in this spot as the Amazing Older Girl whose very look is treasured, whose words shoot up low levels of self-esteem, whose teasing is the best sort of torture to sit under.
Who'd have thunk that a shy little girl would grow up to be greeted with lit up faces by other shy little girls who adore everything about her?
But that goes to show something: There's really nothing that special about older girls, if I'm one. We don't grow an awesomeness gland or anything once we hit fifteen. It's not in the way we do our hair or make-up, or in what shoes we wear, or whether we have a popular circle of friends. It's just perception. And as my daddy says, perception is reality.
In a way, it's funny to be flip-flopped from little kid to big kid status. Now I'm the one who has a magical touch. Now I'm the one who can dish out the whole, "You're so adorable!" one-liner (okay -- I still get that all the time). Now I'm the one on the pedestal. Now I'm the one who doesn't have to sit on the sidelines waiting to be cool enough to join the cliques; I'm above the clique. I can unite forces. I can break ice. I can cross the lines of the cool girls and the normal girls and the quiet girls without coming under fire. I feel almost invincible.
Except for the fact that, you know, I'm not. I'm just me, seventeen-years-old. Nothin' special. Seriously. Nothin' special at all. The secret? I'm a big kid now. And I love every second of it.