mrs. dietrich, can i be excused?

Today is a day when I feel like a third grader. I read somewhere (was it Shel Silverstien, or the Economist?) about a child turning 11, and how he was 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 all at once. I still feel that way on certain days, and today is a day when I feel like I'm 8. I want to ask Mrs. Dietrich in her Philidelphia Fliers jersey if I can go home sick and be 8...color with crayons, think simple thoughts, eat chicken ramen, and watch The Gnome Mobile.

But no, I'm at work today, and I have to pretend to be an adult, while my 8 year old self wants to have a temper tantrum. And even at 8, you know a temper tantrum is something babies do. Sigh.

I think my baby is why I feel this way. You know how when you spend a lot of time with someone and you pick up their mannerisms, patterns of speech, and things like that? Sometimes, I feel like I pick up Birdy-isms. Like wanting to cry when I drop something, or just wanting to take a nap, or have someone take care of me like we take care of Birdy. I think though, that these thoughts take over when I'm tired.

Like, for example, I've only gotten 6 hours of sleep the night before. Like, for example, last night.

Perhaps I'm having a quarter-life crisis. I'm going to be 25 next week, and I feel old for 24, let alone 25. Most of my friends are not my age, and the ones that are aren't very 25ish either. Someone last week guessed that I was "30 or 35." That doesn't offend me, or make me think I look so much older due to sleep deprivation or whatever it is that makes people look 35. I just don't feel like that much of an adult. Mainly, I don't feel like I should be as young as I am.

I did a Google search for the poem I was talking about, but found this one from Billy Collins (who is someone you should know, or at least introduce your children to through this book.) about a boy mourning the loss of childhood as he turns the ripe old age of 10. It made me smile, if only for my mourning the loss of jumping into leaf piles and eating chicken ramen; because really, haven't we all thought these things at some point during our childhood?

On Turning Ten

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier,
at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.
It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

Billy Collins

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