I wish I knew then what I know now. Childhood isn’t carefree. At least mine wasn’t. I had the weight of the world on my bony shoulders. I think we adults forget just how fraught childhood really is. If only I could have reassured my eight year old, worried self! This is what I would say:
Dear Eight Year Old Molly,
Guess what! You made it to 63 without too much trouble. Well yes, the dogs died. But you got over that. I know that there is a lot on your mind, so I want to reassure you about some of the things that make you worry at night:
- You will not grow up to be a great actress. But your daughter will manage a lot of them, and boy oh boy—it’s a good thing you won’t be one. Your daughter says they are a bunch of trouble.
- Hey, guess what? You will marry an accordion player. And people will love him! And you will like him, too. A LOT. Despite the squeezebox. So don’t worry when you get to high school and never have a boyfriend. And that thing about sweet sixteen and never been kissed? You will make it just under the wire!
- All those girls who made you eat dirt that time? They all got fat and married jerky men. Yay!
- Don’t worry about the nuclear war. It won’t happen. So stop all that dropping and crawling under your desk. Well, I guess they make you do that. But when you are under there, think about kittens. There will be some wars, yes, but there will still be flowers and you will have cake a lot. Yes! It’s true! No big bombs.
- Speaking of cake: Here’s the thing! Adults can eat between meals if they want to, and nobody can tell you when you are a grownup that you can’t have a snack. Unless it’s Jenny Craig, and you will learn about her later. She is mean. But don’t snack too late and ruin your dinner. And guess what else? When you are an adult, you will be able to eat toast in bed every single day!
- You will really like being a Mom. Your children will say that you were very strict and wouldn’t let them say “shut up,” but that is ok, because they both will grow up just fine. And they still never tell each other to shut up.
- You are not crazy. Not that all the other kids worry about what the definition of “neurosis” is at your age. But you are just PRECOCIOUS.
- You don’t have FOUR EYES. Those kids without glasses are stupid. And someday, people with glasses will be regarded as “Cool, man!” Plus, you need them right now so you can read books under the covers at night. This is the most fun, ever.
- Yeah. It might be a good idea not to pick your nose in public. And the nail biting thing? Lose it. You are not really that nervous.
- You are a skinny little girl. Pay attention to how skinny! You won’t always be that way, and it will make you a little sad when you eat your cake.
- You know that Santa thing? Well, it is just as well. You will understand when you have children. And I am not so sure that Rudolph isn’t real. I think I saw him at the zoo last year. He looked pretty chipper.
- No matter how many times you fall off your bike, get right back on. This is what band-aids and iodine were made for. And don’t forget to use your arm signals.
- You won’t believe this, but you will grow to love ASPARAGUS! I know!
- And you really don’t need to worry when your Mom tells you about where babies come from. It really isn’t that disgusting. And if you want to, you can keep your shirt on.
- It is ok to read ahead in English class. And the Weekly Reader? You are totally right: boring!
- Your Dad always tells you that you are beautiful. Yikes! He was right! It turns out that all the people who love you will think that. So you don’t need to worry about it, even when you get pimples later.
- So go ahead and read all the books you want to, ride your bike and smile in the wind, and have two pieces of cake for dessert. You are going to be just fine.