“you don’t know what you wanna do with your life?” “nah”
“don’t you wanna get married and have children” “nope”
“aw, you’ll figure it out when you get older” “like you have”
what does it mean to be a child in these years of disaster? do we even get to be children?
i have friends that depended on making good grades this year to go off island. now they’re stuck home on their phones, same as me, only they don’t have the luxury of people who are willing to chip in for a flight out anytime soon. for that matter, they don’t have luxuries.
i see kids who don’t have a choice in whether or not they have to stare at a screen, trying to learn but wanting to play, frustration swelling from the online plane within two minutes of trying to understand a livestream, tears after finally ending a call. some of them range from age five to age sixty.
i’ve seen visas and permits expire and waited anxiously with friends who don’t know if their being in country will give them the freedom to stay or danger to their families’ lives.
i’ve seen more lonely kids than the years i have spent being lonely, people in my grade freaking out that their friend is gonna relapse that night because they couldn’t handle the stress of listening to the lashing outs of a child in need of help, kids searching for advice on how to hide their cuts and information and personal treasures that would immediately be seen as trash once spotted by the grownups who are supposed to care.
i have had to give that advice.
no wide areas of skin, make backup emails, delete your history every other week, use a vpn, stash outside the house, memorize your apartment’s stairs route and times of entry.
it got to “record what they’re doing so you have a case when the uniforms come knocking” that i just jerked back from what i was typing and sat shocked for a full minute.
i’m supposed to prep for the driver’s exam, and here i am trying to comfort a kid in case their parents do find out about their anxiety.
why do i have to say that sentence? why do we have to pass advice for how to survive? why are we dependent on our grades to be considered a respectable useful member of society? why do i have to check up on friends to see if their area was okay after a shooting? why do we hear our parents laude so much praise for a system that has shown no respect of life whatsoever solely because they claim they care for the unborn?
they don’t even care for the born.
“all kids’ lives are wanted!” but when have any of us felt truly wanted by those around us? when have we felt wanted and not guilty for existing, for the cost, for our fear, for our lack of skill, for the trouble we assume we make by breathing?
i don’t know how great a world can be in in which we’ve causally accepted our trauma. in which your existence is judged on how many labels you fit and the amount of melanin in your body, but never accepted for the fire in your soul or the light in your eyes or the pen in your hands or the heart that still beats in you despite everything that has gone wrong.
how is that world even sustainable to be an adult in? it’s barely possible to be a kid in it.
but you can’t say that. because everyone already knows about the depression and anxiety and general angst of our generation, and they’ve simply closed their eyes.
and if you jump they’ll probably cry bloody murder instead of ever thinking that maybe they were the murderers.
maybe, there is something wrong with the world, and it’s not on kids being lazy and addicted to their phones. and maybe those kids want to see the world become lighter for just two minutes. maybe those kids want to live their stories and create their art and not have their lives at stake for doing what they could to help. maybe there is unbelievable beauty in treating the human individual and collective like they are human.
maybe kids deserve to be children for however long they can get. maybe their lives matter.
but until that’s a truth self evident and not something we need to chant in the streets, and far beyond that, there is so much work to be done that somehow will be left to us to pick up. because sometimes the adults don’t do the jobs they’re proud of having.
i don’t doubt that good will win. and i don’t doubt the tenacity of people fighting for that good. and i think there will be a day where we can look back at this time in history and marvel at how far we’ve come—
but it’s tiring.
what do i want to be when i grow up?
~running around night, running for a light, jo~