The Line Between Childhood and Adulthood; or: Becoming Invisible

I think it was in It where Stephen King wrote of the difference between a child’s world and an adult’s world, and how they are invisible to one another. I thought this morning as I walked into town that, based on that, you know you are an adult–or, at least, have effectively left behind childhood–when you become invisible to children.

Because you know how kids always check out other kids–from physical contact and exploration in the first few years to blatant staring from a distance in the second few. But, once you reach a certain age, they stop checking you out (and you stop checking out others). You become invisible (as do they). Uninteresting. ADULT. At least, in their eyes. You have surpassed possible status as friend, or enemy, based on having become too big, or too mature, or too serious, or too self-absorbed, or too goal-oriented, or too fast-paced, or too thoughtful, or too bland… the list goes on. All the things “grown-ups” are to kids that separate them.

I believe that children categorize all people into two majors groups: kids and grown-ups. As they get older those categories break down a bit–babies and older kids, grown-ups and old folks–but the essence is the same. And once you pass that line… there’s no turning back. There’s no regaining whatever it is that made you one of them the day before.

But perhaps it is progressive, this shift. The reason I came to think of all this is: on my walk to town, two boys–around eight, I’d say–passed me on the sidewalk. I always notice kids, but they didn’t seem to notice me–I was merely an obstacle in their respective scooter-and-bike path. I was invisible. Officially not one of them.

But sometimes kids do notice me. Most often they are girls, and it is always when I am in a particularly good mood. My good moods are always carefree, not clogged by my usual overly-analytical, compulsive thinking patterns. At these times, something within me shines. I am one of them–or, at least, not completely one of the other. For those brief moments, I am a bit of a child again. And sometimes children who are fully children can see that.

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