Before I grew into the mature man that I am today, I was an adorable little kid. Life as a child was great. I didn’t have to worry about anything like homework, making my own food, or a mortgage*. Unfortunately, a degree of extreme stupidity came with the territory. I spent my time wanting to be older rather than enjoying the age when it’s still socially acceptable to cry after losing a pick-up football game, take a bath rather than a shower, and watch the full 8-hour marathon of Power Rangers Ninja Storm. Now I have to do that in secret.
Anyway, during a commercial break of a Power Rangers episode I was watching on a small TV while huddled in a closet in my basement, I thought of all the things I thought were awesome when I was a kid. Oh how naïve I was.
*I’m still not quite sure what this is. I just listed it because I thought it made me look older and sophisticated. In fact, if a mortgage is something I should be worried about now, please let me know ASAP.
Casts: I thought casts were the coolest things since light-up sneakers. Casts immediately increased a kid’s popularity. People flocked to the cripples to sign their cast and hear the story of how they injured themselves, whether it was from a game of tackle football, slipping while running through the hall, or punching the wall too hard trying to imitate the red Power Ranger. Also, people in casts were waited on like kings. Kids offered to carry their books, help them buy lunch, and even take notes for them.
I was wrong though. Casts are not cool. In fact, they suck. First of all, after about a day, everyone has already signed the cast and the celebrity status wears off. Then, the cast starts to itch. There’s nothing worse to a kid two months of insatiable itching. Finally, parents are extra cautious with kids in casts, so it’s impossible to sneak off and watch Power Rangers.
Braces: Braces were a fashion statement as a kid. Every time my friends would come in with new colors, I would get jealous. They were also allowed to leave school early once a month to go to the orthodontist, which seemed like a pretty good deal. Kids with braces could also use “my teeth hurt” as an excuse to sit out of band and gym and just play GameBoy on the side.
I failed to realize that wearing braces is a horribly painful experience. To this day, I’m unsure as to why I didn’t realize that having metal rods pulling my teeth apart at all times of the day wouldn’t be an excruciating experience. The timing of my orthodontic torture also screwed me. As it turns out, braces transition from cool to lame around age 12 and the terms “brace face” and “metal mouth” change from friendly teasing to malicious taunting around that age too.
Kids a Year Older Than Me: I always thought that kids a year older than me were infinitely cooler than me. When I played touch football, they played tackle. When I watch the Wild Thornberrys Movie, they watched Austin Powers. When I ate lunch in the cafeteria, they picked me up, put me in a cafeteria garbage can, and rolled me down a hill.
Each year, I thought I had finally become cool, but each year I was sadly disappointed to realize that the kids a year older than me had, in fact, grown another year older and another year cooler. Also, tackle football is no fun for the kid that’s a foot shorter than everyone. Mike Meyers isn’t that funny. And the weekly garbage-can-rolls didn’t stop. 21 year-olds can be really mean.