Remember back in the days, when you heard one of your parents or any other grown-up say “when I was young…”? What was your reaction to this sentence back then?
I remember that I usually took a deep breath and thought “here we go again…” expecting a long monologue about who times were different, most probably much harder, and how that person had to suffer but still pulled through. Or then there was a monologue about how much better those times were then. Or then they looked back to the days they were younger, with some sort of “if I could only go back to those days” sentiment.
Whenever the story that followed was in relation to what was better or harder back then, I kind of switched off. I acknowledge it in a way but my sentiment was always that there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn’t change the fact that they had it harder. As much as I couldn’t change the fact that I had it easier.
Some stories just didn’t seem as important to me back then. I was still young. I was living that very bit of my life right then and the person who said it was never that young woman or young man, that child for me. That person was always a grown-up. A parent, an uncle or aunt, a friend of my parents, someone who was much older than I would have been. They, though, remembered the child they once were. They remembered the teenager they were, the things they’ve done and been through. And some of it as if it was yesterday.
But then there were the stories that caught me. Stories about their lives that were told so well, that they seemed like coming out of a bestselling book. Stories about the adventures they’ve been through. In those moments I could have listened forever. Question after question was asked and the story grew with each of them. It felt like being taken away into a different time, a different life. Being there with that person, observing him or her while they experience that part of their life, like an invisible observer.
Today I’m one of the people I hear saying “when I was young”. Not very often but every now and then. I’m not old. And still it comes up. Of course it does. Not only has technology evolved in a crazy manner every since I was born but I’m also no longer young.
I hear myself tell my children stories from when I was young, from when I was a child or a teenager. I tell them what was different. And sometimes I think I sound like my parents.
I can see that sometimes I capture their attention with a story and the questions get shot in my way. Then the story builds bigger and it’s a great feeling. And sometimes I can see how they try to be polite and listen but probably think “here we go again” in their minds…
Talking about the things we experienced when we were younger now seems totally normal for me. I’ve experienced a big part of my life already. I’ve been through different stages in my life, through changes. I changed as a person, matured as a parent and still have so much ahead of me.
When I watched a recorded episode of Masterchef Juniors the other day and one of the contestants – a 9 year old boy – used the phrase “when I was young” in a way only an adult would, it almost blew my mind. Did I hear it properly? Did he really just say that? Child: You ARE young! I watched it again and this time it felt weird, almost fake. So I kept watching, paying more attention to what the kids were saying rather than what they were cooking (which on another note is incredible…).
I came to the conclusion that it all must be scripted. No child would constantly talk in such a way, use words like this and act like that. I refuse believing it.
And I wondered why we would want to portrait children of such a young age as adults. Why would we want them to seem so much more mature? They are at a point in their life where they should have fun and blabber along and go nuts and… well… just be kids. Even in a TV show. Instead though, their turned into mini adults, who say and do things even an adult would struggle to say and do in normal circumstances. And it seems like a puppet show.
Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s amazing what kind of dishes those 8 to 12 year old kids can create. And I think it’s an amazing skill to have in the future. If they really want to end up in the food industry, then they for sure will have an advantage. If not, they for sure will impress everyone with their cooking skills. What I don’t get is why they can’t just be kids and talk like kids. For me it would make the show so much better.
When a 9 year old child, although he or she of course has been younger before, uses that phrase “when I was young” in the sense of “back in the days” it simply sounds wrong. Yes, a 9 year old has changed and grown from a baby into a child. But that’s about it.
How about saying “when I was youngER”? That would make so much more sense.
Dear children out there: Don’t try to be older. You will be soon and then you will realize that being a child is actually a pretty great thing.
When you go through life and all the different stages, you learn, you grow, you mature. You will make mistakes as well. You will experience things, some good and some bad. You will move through different stages of your life. We can look back at all the things we did, good or bad. All of this will eventually lead you to the point where you can look back and honestly say “when I was young” and actually have a story to tell. Life is like a book. While you go through your life you add chapter by chapter. And once you are around or over the middle of this hopefully thick book, you might as well go back and check out an older chapter again.
This is one of the privileges of getting older. All the chapters in our book. The story we have to tell…