A poem about childhood

2 min readMay 13, 2023

by Abby Tozer

My sister (bottom, aged5) and I (top, age 10) in Italy, 2008

When I was young, my parents used to always say “don’t rush it” — meaning, my childhood.

But I couldn’t wait to grow up. I couldn’t wait to wear fancy dresses and descend big winding staircases. I had such a clear idea of what it was to be older, to be beautiful.

But, of course, they were right.

Childhood was this time when everything mattered because nothing did. It was this exhilarating and exhausting backyard fairy hunt quickly followed by a gluttonous dinner.

The range of emotions in your youth is wide and tumultuous–but I think true. I think that painfully oscillating inner pendulum reaches the perfect depths of truth only to be denied and stopped short in adulthood. We don’t learn to qualm our true expression until we’re about fourteen.

One morning, my father came into my room to make sure I was ready to go to lunch. I was twelve. And he said to me, “you’ve had a pretty good childhood haven’t you?” I brushed him off in denial thinking, “I am not a child!” And he left, warning me of the ten minute timer until we departed. But I sat on the carpeted floor, leaning on the dark red comforter I begged my mother to buy and felt an unexpected emptiness. Did he mean that my childhood was over?

How can something be over when you’ve scarcely even recognized it had begun?

And that’s when I knew.

That’s when I knew that adulthood was a choice.

Abandoning that sense of wonder, that complete chaotic freedom, was only an expectation and formed path one might explore.

And I will not.

I will not rush it, because even if I did, where would I be going?