Saturday, August 28, 2010
What Childhood Should Be
I was just reading an essay about childhood depression that began, "Childhood should be a carefree time of happiness and discovery." It struck me that this sentence, tossed off as if it were obviously true, expresses a gigantic assumption about what childhood should and should not be. Why should childhood be "carefree," instead of, say, a time when we are gradually exposed to cares and responsibilities? Would you let a "carefree" child ride a bike in the street? And while I hope that every human being knows his or her share of happiness, I think a life without sadness, anger, and loss would be inhuman. And even if I accepted that childhood should be free of care and sadness (which I don't), I think anyone who imagines that childhood might actually be happily carefree has forgotten what it is like to be a child.