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I Forgot To Be a Child

November 1, 2012

I read that children are born with their own karma,
prepackaged,
no blanks slate for them.
I think in my last life I must have lived a long time,
so long I forgot what it was to be a child.
I was born an adult,
trapped in a wailing,
feeble,
child’s body.
I knew nothing, like a child,
and I had all of a child’s faults,
but I did not think of myself as a child.
I was no different than anyone else,
all the big people in my life,
but only I could see it.

No adult resents anything as much as being treated like a child.
Although here I was in a child’s body,
I was no exception.
I resented my childhood and, for the most part,
refused to cooperate.
I did not connect with other children.
I did not obey my teachers.
I did not fall for the allure of adolescent
experimentation.
I struggled to grow up too fast,
to swim past all the confusion and mistakes.

By my karma,
I was drawn to understanding parents,
who tolerated and even loved this stubborn,
independent girl,
and never spoke to me as though I couldn’t comprehend anything
even if we did not always agree.
Sometimes I thought they believed my non-cooperation
was a phase I would grow out of,
or perhaps they knew
it was merely an adulthood I was waiting to grow into.

Of course,
there were things my mind could not comprehend,
for it was also trapped in the brain of a child,
lacking the fully developed neural connections
and stable hormonal balance it needed.
Childhood was a mental illness I had to grow out of.
Now I am an adult
and with every passing year I feel more sane.
I have learned how to play
and to let go.

And I hear people recollect on their childhood
and their wild teenage years
and I think “That was not me,”
but there is a wistful sadness.
For it could have been,
if I had remembered sooner
what it was to be a child.

The author (right) and older brother (left) in 1983.

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