“Grown Up”: Sour Pouch or Encyclopedia of Wisdom?
What does it mean to grow up? I have pondered upon this question for a while now and I cannot seem to find the right answer. I was talking to one of my students few weeks ago, a 8th grader going to high school next year. We were debating on the topic of ‘Why Humans Cry’ and as the “grown up” I told him that crying is a way we cope with stress and the human life woes. Everyone cries, I began with what I thought was an epic speech waiting to happen. Everyone cries and should cry because there is so much relief and therapy in the release of pain and frustrations through tears. He of course, did not accept my epic statement.
In fact, he objected and said “I don’t cry.” Crying is unnecessary. You can imagine my reaction as I tried to pack up my drools and control my jaw to the dismissal of my experience-giving insight. So, I asked why? is it because you are a boy, you do not think it is okay to cry? He responded, “No, because I just hand over stuff to God.” I responded, Do you think you see it this way because you haven’t had something important to you get taken away from you yet beyond your control? He said “No, It just doesn’t do you any good to cry, crying doesn’t fix things, that’s why you hand it over to God.”
I was beginning to feel like the Grinch and that if I said anymore to this precious soul, I might “grow him up “ too quickly. I think there is enough of that already in society, so I smiled and explained further that like laughter, hugs, kisses and giggling, crying is just another expression. Laughter and giggling are the expressions and emotional response used in positive and joyful circumstances while crying is one of the expressions we use in our sad states. It doesn’t make you weak to cry, it doesn’t mean that you haven’t given or handed over your problems to God either. It means that you are human and you are overwhelmed and just like how you laugh, giggle and kiss in times of joy and gladness, you cry in times of sadness. It is an emotion that demands to be let out every ones in a while and the failure to do so will make one a grouchy gal or lad. Of course, he did not agree with me. He concluded that crying wasn’t necessary if one chooses to hand over the problem to God, case close.
So in the fear of not growing him up too quickly, I dropped the conversation but encouraged him to keep researching and reading about the psychological and need for crying. Why did God give us this ability if it was unnecessary?
For me, I began to ponder what it means to grow up? Was this about being a grown up at all or just the need to preserve the wide-eyed innocence of being a child or teen with little to no history of disappointments, failures and regrets? Is growing up synonymous to graduation into realizing that the world is not fair? I know that sounds like a teenager’s declaration of injustice in rants to her parents. But seriously, Is growing up realizing that the world is an interesting sphere and not a bed of roses and it becomes what you make of it? That dreams can come true and dreams die and or are killed. That you have to fight for what you believe in or you will live fruitless. Is growing up throwing your fist into heaven every once in a while and asking But God, why? Is growing up justifying to whom good and bad occurrences in life should get ditched out to? I hear myself debate sometimes, but I am a good person, why should I not get all my heart desires… is growing up playing God? Heck, is growing up thinking we have the ability to blame, question or even judge our unfathomable father?
So What does it mean to Grow up?
To see things for what they really are? To know when to choose when not to see and hear? To summon up your own perspective of life if life has not dealt you a good one? To lose the wide-eyed innocence lens of our childhood? To struggle? Pay Bills? To make a decision to thrive and not strive for an entire existence? to take ownership of the world and give kindness to a broken world? To stump our neighbors further down so that we succeed? To blame our parents for all the “wrong” shots they called in our developments and why we are not basking in the fairy tale land we dreamt for ourselves growing up? Is growing up having endless questions that you may never get answers to?
So, what does it mean to grow up and when do we “grow up?” The day we found out that Santa Claus was not real and the almighty decision of whether we should forgive our parents for the epic deception or to adore them for all the struggles they had to undergo to pull off giving us all sorts of presents and years of stories about chimneys and the darling fat grey-bearded guy.
Maybe growing up is about realizing that our perception of life, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and it is our choice to find beauty in the life, skin, situations, and circumstances that we have been dealt no matter what. We still cry of course but we let kids figure it out too at their own time…