No matter what popular culture insists, being an adult is great. You can drink, you can go to bed when you want, no one tries to teach you about osmosis, and you can get tattoos of skeletons without anyone being able to tell you off. If I’d tried to eat as much cake as a child as I do now, the police would’ve got involved – but as an adult I’m free to poison myself with chocolate to my heart’s content. It’s a dream.
That said, there are a few things about being a child that I miss. I wouldn’t body swap with a toddler for all the tea in China, but occasionally I’ve been known to glare at my niece with unconcealed hatred in my eyes. Here’s what’s been raising the green-eyed monster…
Picture the scene: you’re me. You’re tired. You’re constantly tired and, what’s more, you’re chronically lazy. It’s late – you’ve been out with friends (because, as your Twitter bio clearly states, I’m interesting, cheerful and sociable). You’ve walked a whole bunch today, and the rest of the way home is uphill. Your feet hurt. Your friend is significantly taller and stronger than you. You overheard them mention that they wanted to start going to the gym more.
Is it really so unreasonable, given those circumstances, to ask your mate for a cheeky piggyback home? I’d even see it as an act of kindness on the part of the person soliciting a lift – after all, in today’s society, plagued as we are by the pressures of staying thin, any opportunity to work out is a godsend. What could be better than the chance to bond with a friend and work up a sweat in one fell swoop?
And yet, unbelievably, my requests to be transported like a lil baby in a sling have been met with ridicule and derision. Having been laughed out of town by those that purport to love and support me, I often find my mind wandering back to childhood, when simply scuffing my feet along the floor would result in me being scooped up by some accommodating grownup.
Wearing what you want
It’s a sad fact of life that not all of us are as confident in our dress sense as my dear friend and hydration advocate Oliver (pictured).
Whilst some people might not baulk at wearing all yellow outside an iconic club (pictured), most people’s journey to adulthood includes a movement away from primary colours, towards a more subdued palate. My secondary school’s uniform was a deep maroon, and I believe that the Powers that Be were trying to speed up this process in order to better prepare us for the realities of the adult world.
Sure, OK, there are those among us who have the joyful hearts of children, who take pleasure in matching their shoes to their hair (pictured), but the vast majority of adults robe themselves in the least remarkable colour combinations possible. I myself, as I write this, am dressed in only three different colours, and all of them are shades of black.
I don’t have any media even remotely related to potato smilies, but please enjoy this gif of me absolutely loving a Curlywurly.
School dinners. Once a greasy heaven of turkey twizzlers and deep-fried goodness, now a shadow of its former self. I entered the school system just before Jamie Oliver, like Margaret Thatcher before him, took it upon himself to snatch lipid-rich dishes from schoolchildren’s sticky hands. As a result, I was present during the heyday of the British school system’s grease-driven mania. I remember how, as a tiny Reception pupil, I would load my tray with ribbons of undefined meat, lashings of creamy rice pudding, and, crucially, a massacre of potato smilies.
Potato smilies, for those who had a healthier childhood than me, are deep fried potatoes (think croquettes) in the shape of smiley faces. Truly, now I come to think of it, the forerunners of the modern-day emoji.
All that had changed by the time I entered Year One. Turkey twizzlers had been replaced with meat in recognisable shapes, potato salad substituted my beloved smilies. Whilst rice pudding remained, it didn’t have the same artery-clogging full-fat deliciousness as before. The tide had well and truly turned.
I haven’t seen a potato smiley for many years now – for almost two decades, in fact. Sometimes I think I catch a glimpse of a yellow grin behind the frozen prawns in Tesco’s vast freezers, but when I do a double take, it’s gone. It’s just my imagination playing drinks, my long-suppressed desires resurfacing. I heard rumours of them being openly sold at Aldi, at Costco, at the Polish shop down the road, but as yet I’ve been thwarted at every turn, left clutching a bag of chicken dinosaurs or potato circles.
And one thing I don’t miss…
My appearance, cos i look exactly the same
Marvel at this image. It’s almost impossible to differentiate between 22-year-old me and 4-year-old. To give you a clue, the Ro with the black border around her is the child Rosie.