Toddler to Teen (with Nothing in Between)

Okay, I may be having a concerned middle aged mother moment here, but what’s happening to children? Why do they seem to go from nursery to nightclubs, avoiding the whole phase called, you know, childhood?

When I was a child (still am according to the Translink bus drivers, half price fare thankU), I came home from school, played with my cheap knockoff Tamagotchi, went outside and played the ultimate sport that is Kirby and rang my mates on their landline. We all knew each other’s home numbers off by heart and would sit and talk until our fish fingers were ready, or our ma needed to use the internet – shoutout to dial-up.

These bad boys were the OG Nintendogs

I used to call for my friends, “is Sarah coming out?”; “The street’s playing rounders do you wanna come?” and we’d run about, play ‘rap a door run away’, ride Flickrs and be home by 9 o’clock. We went out in the street nearly every day, except when we weren’t allowed out because we had to do our homework, or were grounded. Yeah, grounding was still a thing.

We’d go into town on a Saturday. That was literally the outing. We’d go in, paddle about, go to New Look to try on high heels, take photos in clothes we were never gonna buy, do peace signs non-ironically and go to KFC.

Us getting our photos taken in River Island

But now, things are so different. Children don’t seem to act like children anymore. Primary school children are using iPhones and social media – 8 year olds are following me on Instagram. 8 YEAR OLDS. Children don’t go through horrible fringe, “nobody understands me” or experimental eyeliner phases anymore. They do makeup better than I do (not that that’s hard), have actual relationships – not fake boyfriends you met on Omegle – and go to playgrounds to drink, rather than “play“. Rather than children and teenagers, it seems to be teenagers and like, shorter teenagers.

This is why I’m so glad I grew up when I did, had the childhood that I had and acted my age. Looking back at my behaviour until I was about 15 actually makes me cringe and question why I had friends. I was a weirdo. But we were all ‘weirdos’. Us being weird was us acting normal. We have scundering photographic evidence that we use for blackmail, and sit laughing and shuddering at the way we got on. Do I regret the way I was? Yeah. Would I do it again if I had a do-over? Definitely.

Me after receiving said blackmail material

I wouldn’t want to look back as an adult and not be able to identify when I actually became one. 13 year olds shouldn’t be acting 18. They shouldn’t want to. Being an adult isn’t fun – we have to pay tax. TAX. (Unless you’re rich of course, and then apparently you don’t have to). And pay twice as much for transport and cinema tickets. Ew.

Yes, I always wanted to be 18, and to be honest, I still do – if I could stop aging that would be GREAT. But I always failed (and still do) to act and look like an 18 year old. But now, 12 year olds actually do pull off being 18. They look older than me, are taller than me (there’s definitely something in the water) and are more active online than me.

But I’m glad I didn’t grow up in a time when smartphones, likes and appearance were my priorities. They weren’t even in my radar. I ran about with friends, literally ran about. Outside. The only social media I had was Bebo and I wasn’t even allowed it so had to make it on my friend’s laptop and could only use it at her house. I joined the school computer club purely so I could use MSN to talk to my friends. We literally emailed each other. But in pink text. That was the extent of my online activity – that and a weird internal school “social media” called SuperClubs which NOBODY ELSE seems to remember but I definitely didn’t make up. Someone please back me up on this.

The OG Facebook messenger

I had 0 cares or worries, besides that boy finding out I fancied him or how my side fringe looked. I lived in a bubble, with no exposure to the scary thing that is the real world. Children these days are able to see so much online, stuff they shouldn’t be seeing – stuff no one should really be seeing. The internet’s full of harmful and dangerous things that children can easily stumble upon. Things that are affecting how they see themselves and the “real” world. They’re comparing themselves to Instagram lifestyles and models, because that’s what they see. So that must be what life’s meant to be like, right? But it’s filtered, fake and 90% of the time, it’s paid for.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not children’s fault, they can’t help it. It’s the world they’re growing up in. What are they meant to do, stop using their phones and isolate themselves from their friends? Play outside alone? Rebirth themselves 10 years earlier? Ugh, imagine.

I don’t know if it’ll change. I don’t really see how it could. And that’s sad. We seem to be living in a world with just babies, adults and the elderly. More and more people are born every year, but we seem to have less and less children with each of them.

Children should be children. They should want to be children. Childhood is the best experience of your life. And it’s not fair if they don’t get to experience it.

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