A boy playing with toy cars with his parents' legs visible

Why I was scared of growing up

I don’t remember a lot of my early childhood. But one thing that did stick with me was my fear of growing up. You see, when I was young, my parents would always work hard for all of our futures (not that I had any realisation of this at the time). Having two older brothers meant that I didn’t get as much attention from my parents as I had hoped. One day, when playing with Legos, the kid-logic in me came to a realisation: my parents are grown-ups; why don’t they play with Legos? They don’t play with toy cars on the floor. They don’t play any videogames, and they don’t even jump around at all. This clearly means that as you grow older, you can no longer enjoy the things you enjoy now as a kid. Growing older means growing bitter. It has to. So I got scared.

It was at that point in time that I made a vow to myself. I didn’t know what kinds of changes I would undergo, growing up to be an adult, but I had to make sure I’d never leave the kid inside me behind. I told myself: no matter what happens, no matter how mature or serious I get, I should always be able to enjoy playing with toy cars. Right after this, I ran downstairs and asked my mom if she could jump. It felt like such an NPC thing, to not ever jump. I remember she was taken aback a bit. Which I completely understand, because having your kid ask you out of the blue to jump for no particular reason has to be unexpected. But she did. She jumped. She showed me that she was still able and willing to. In a way, my request must have seemed fun, or quirky at the very least. I remember catching a glimpse of joy after she jumped. “Whew, I guess we don’t all turn into joyless robots when we get older”, I thought. Little did I know that my parents knew just fine how to have fun in life, just not with toy cars or videogames.

Here we are now, in 2023. I am 28 years old and I’m on my second human-sized car now. I love driving it, especially with the top down in summer days like these. However, I also have a miniature model of it. And when nobody is looking, when nobody can tell me what is socially acceptable and what isn’t, I like to grab it off its shelf, put it on the floor and drive it around. I still imagine engine and skidding sounds as it crosses from one corner of the room to the next. Now I rarely do this anymore. My life has filled up with plenty of other things to do these days. Many things that also bring joy, which I didn’t realise at the time would be the reason for adults to stop playing. But for the kid Herman in me, I have to respect the vow I’ve made. Yes, I do still enjoy playing with toy cars on my floor. And no, that isn’t ever going to change.


One response to “Why I was scared of growing up”

  1. Danique says:

    Heel leuk verhaal en mooi geschreven!!

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