Since we’ve been working remotely, my team has been meeting virtually every morning to touch base on what our plans for the workday are. To break up the monotony of these meetings, we ask a daily ice breaker type question. We’ve been doing this just short of two years, so the question of ‘If you could go back in time, what age would you choose?’ has come up more than once. My answer is always the same…
My son is a tween, no longer a child, but not yet a teen. Many days, he’ll come home from school, drop his book bag, and head straight outside to ride his bike with kids in the neighborhood. Not a worry in the world. On the rare occasions that I get the opportunity to listen to him and his friends talk, I hear them strategize about their video games and talk about the drama in their favorite social media star’s life. They test out bad words and recall stories from waaaay back when they were in 3rd grade. It’s heartwarming and adorable (sometimes exhausting) to listen to.
As much as things have changed from when I was 12, many things are the same. The hours between coming home from school and dinner time would consist of me watching tv, listening to the radio, or going outside to hang out with neighborhood kids. My friends and I would try to find our crushes in the phone book so we could call them, only to hang up when they answered.
There were many school friends and acquaintances during that time in my life, but one, in particular, stands out. From the first day we met in 4th grade, Tina and I clicked. Although I haven’t seen or heard from her in well over 30 years, she will always hold a special place in my heart. Our birthdays were just one day apart, so for us, it meant we were destined to be forever friends. There are endless memories of us having fun, while getting into trouble at the same time.
We looked nothing alike, so we thought it was hysterical when we’d knock on doors just outside of our neighborhood and say that we were sisters that just moved into the area.
On walks home from school we’d pass the local bar and scream ‘alcoholics’ and then run away as fast as we could. I’m not proud of the way we acted at times. I recognize that yelling ‘alcoholics’ into a bar was not a nice thing to do, but our intentions were not to be mean, our only intention was to be outrageous just for a laugh, and just for each other.
I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of times my mother told me that I wasn’t allowed to see Tina anymore.
Tweens are bold, obnoxious, and confident. They have just enough freedom and are still cute enough to get away with being silly as hell. Just around the corner are the teenage years where life starts to change, and friends start to go in different directions. Life puts you in a different place, turning the boldness and confidence of the tween into the insecurities of a teen.
The hardships of life generally don’t have as much of an impact as they do for adults. In the natural order of things, deaths are of older relatives, still sad but not as impactful as the deaths that happen later. At 11 years old, there’s only 10 years to reflect on. The older we get, the more we have to look back on and sometimes looking back hurts. So, if I could turn back time for a moment, the warm, carefree moments of my tween years is where I’d choose to go.
Tell me this: If you could go back to visit a time in your life, when would it be?
“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?” Delivered by Richard Dreyfuss in Stand by Me