A couple of years ago I read Peter Pan. Upon reading it I realized something; Peter Pan is kind of a jerk. Actually, you can scratch out the “kind of.” I also realized people, myself included, love him anyways. I believe this is because he embodies the very essence of boyhood. As adults we tend to idealize childhood and that’s not my intention. Childhood is filled with insecurities and disappointments, some of them may seem silly to us now but children’s problems are very real in the moment. We all know children can be mean and I don’t just mean bullies. Most generally sweet, good kids are mean sometimes too. Sometimes it’s to fit in or to feel better about themselves at the expense of others but mostly I think it’s just that they’re still learning how to control their emotions, especially anger. So why do we idealize childhood? I think when we grow up we lose something, something that no matter how “in touch you are with your inner child,” you can never get back
Which brings me to (segue alert) my 10 more minutes theory. If your childhood was anything like mine, when you were playing outside you’re mother or father or some sort of authoritative person would yell “time to come in” to you. The response was always the same “aww! 10 more minutes, please?” Sometimes the answer would be no, sometimes there’d be a compromise for 5 more minutes but sometimes, on a really good day the answer would be yes.
Now what’s 10 minutes to an adult? Time enough to take a quick shower or do a simple chore. Drive time to the grocery store or time enough to stop for gas. Ten minutes isn’t much to an adult. Now, think of the same amount of time to a child. Think how many times you can go down a slide or jump off of a swing in 10 minutes. In those 10 more minutes battles can be won. Planets can be explored. Trees can be climbed. Dragons can be slain and princesses can find their happily ever after. Fantastical new lands can be explored and exotic animals tamed. Heroes can fight valiantly and villains can shrivel. In those 10 minutes the world can be changed.
I can vaguely remember this feeling of unbridled imagination and exhilaration but try as I might, I never fully experience it anymore. I can catch glimpses of my 10 more minutes in various activities I enjoy; playing with my own daughter, riding a roller coaster, being outdoors or enjoying a favorite treat. But it’s never quite the same. We lose our 10 more minutes so gradually we don’t realize what we’ve lost till it’s too late. I think adults spend a lot of time trying to find it again.
So that brings me to my conclusion (finally), why do parents (often even the strictest disciplinarians) generation after generation grant requests for 10 more minutes? Is it because 10 minutes is such an insignificant amount if time to an adult? Is it simply to curb the inevitable whining and possible fight at making a child stop playing? Or just maybe, is it because granting their request makes us remember our own 10 more minutes? And even gives us just a glimmer of that beautiful magic again? Perhaps it touches a deep need within us to be young and carefree?
Okay, it’s probably just to curb the whining but wouldn’t you love to have your 10 more minutes just one more time? I know I would.