How long does a childhood last? Is the duration of childhood the same for everyone?
During World War II, the military draft interrupted some childhoods when young men barely past eighteen were yanked away to serve their country. Many went to foreign lands where they witnessed the atrocities of war and lost their childhood years of innocence.
At the same time, because all able-bodied men went into the military, our women filled their jobs at many places, especially in the plants where war supplies were made. These women also had to grow up and become what they’d probably thought they would never be—the primary wage owners.
Even today, without our government activating the military draft, our young men and women are serving in distant lands and coming home different than when they left. They display the courage to grow up in adverse situations.
Did you experience a growing-up time that required you to have courage? The few times America has been at total peace, did you see incidents where folks were forced to become grown-ups?
When responsibilities of life hit us like a load of bricks, growing up becomes essential. We must face our circumstances with courage unavailable to children. We have to shed the cloak of childhood that protects us from accountability.
On the brighter side, we can always refuse to grow up and, instead, be like the chimney sweep in the movie, Mary Poppins, played by Dick Van Dyke. He danced and sang with children and penguins, seemingly without a care in the world.
Remember in that movie when he, Mary Poppins, and the two children left the carousel on their ponies and galloped away? Do you ever wish you could do that?
An old song sung by the Statler Brothers goes like this: “Life gets complicated when you pass eighteen.” The song tells of the adult lives of members of a high school graduating class—how well some have done and also how some have led miserable lives.
The truth of that song is that life does get complicated when you outgrow your childhood. And to become responsible citizens, we must at some point, leave childhood behind. However, through the small children in our surroundings, we can sometimes experience childhood again, if only for brief periods of time.
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