This is an essay/reaction paper I wrote for my infancy and child development class... I feel like it's still relevant... :s I just came across it while going through my email.. :s i included some comments within it... (they're in the brackets)
Growing up too fast or not growing up at all? August 25, 2005
To be able to speak of past experiences that effected how one turned out to be as an adult, you have to be an adult. But if you are not an adult, then how can you speak of things that affected your childhood and adolescence when you are still experiencing those years of your life. To make this introduction a little more clear, I will just have to spell it out. I am a seventeen year old, political science major, senior, class of spring 2006 at the University of Massachusetts Boston. I work at a psychiatric clinic, and intern at a civil rights organization. This piece of writing is supposed to illustrate how I grew up to be from my childhood experiences, but what if your childhood experiences are beyond your time. What if you grew up to fast? Even worse, what if you never really grew up?
I will start off from my extremely early years, from what my mom told me while I was growing up, or pretending to grow up. My mother enjoys making fun of me because my whole life seemed rushed. I was born a month early, giving myself a month head start in the ‘out of womb’ life. I started walking when I was about 9 months and talking around 10 months. Not just mama and dada kind of words but two to three words. When I started kindergarten I started a year early. I was three years old, where as everyone else in my class was four. In total by the time I was 3 years old, I was already one year and one month ahead of myself. I know many children have started school early, or were educated before starting school, but regardless I was already given that head start and was one of those kids.
When in elementary school, I do not remember being smart, or doing well in my classes. I even remember being in special education class for reading because I was at such a low reading level because my dad was always at work and my mom did not really know how to speak English. So, as far as I was concerned, I always thought I was pretty dumb. During the summer before the 4th grade, my parents dragged my siblings and I to Syria, and decided to live there for a year. My siblings were placed in an English speaking school, and I was placed in an Arabic speaking catholic school. I did not know how to speak Arabic originally, but after continuous studying, and being tutored by my mother every morning, before school and in the afternoon, before the cartoons came on the television I eventually picked up the Arabic language. By the end of the school year I ranked 3rd out of the whole 4th grade class.
I came back to the United States and continued onto the 5th grade, and maintained really good grades, placing the 1st in my class every year, and getting high honors every quarterly term. This continued until the 7th grade, which was when my school (and parents) made me take an exam, which I placed at a 10th grade level. So I got to skip the eighth grade. So, I started my freshman year of high school at 12 years old. By the time I was finishing my sophomore year, the high school I had attended decided they wanted to send me to college doing the dual enrollment program. Basically, while finishing your 11th and 12th year in high school, you do your freshman and sophomore year of college, allowing you to graduate acquiring your high school diploma and associates degree. When I finally graduated high school and got my associates degree, I was another 2 years ahead of myself. After another year starting as a junior at Umass Boston, I finished my junior year and now upon the end of the summer, I will be starting my senior year. Totaling to the 4 years of my head start in life.
This is just a brief explanation of my education in regards to growing up too fast or possibly not growing up at all. As for responsibilities, I am the youngest out of 4 siblings. I always helped my mom around the house, and had to clean up after my older siblings, because they were just too oblivious to help my mom by just merely picking up after themselves. I had to tutor my elder brother, because of all my jumps in school, we ended up in high school together, taking most of the same classes. It was my assumed responsibility to remind him of his homework, tutor him, and basically have his back at all times. If he slipped in school it was supposedly my fault. My father and mother tended to confide in me, my dad about his financial, work, and community problems, my mom about her students. I felt like I was the back bone of our family and if I was to move at the sight of danger the whole family would collapse (i don't know how true this is now). My sister thinks I am her best friend (she is!), and my brother this he’s my best friend (he was at some point), always getting things off their shoulders and adding them onto mine (i take things very personally... so when they'd confide in me.. i felt like i had to address the issues). I know it’s great being everyone’s favorite, but usually it is because you are the youngest (i.e. you're supposed to be spoiled rotten), not because you assume the most responsibilities (like me).
Now as I am older, I realized that I was robbed of my childhood. Although I went to a lot of youth oriented events, I never really got to fully explore childhood (i still feel like this). No one had the time to just play with me, and if they did have the time it would be worth sparing it on just playing games, but rather confiding their problems (yeah at some point it was depressing). When I was still 12 I wanted to go outside and play kickball, basket ball, soccer, or soft ball not worry about make up and how to dress (apparently all my friends were into this when i was in highschool... hence me being 12 and wanting to play outside). As I grew into my teenage years, my friends also began to pour out their hearts onto my shoulders and I never really did the same (i'm a very weird person, i can get someone to tell me every last detail of their life... but i can't do the same). I felt that people had worse problems than me and that I should just get over mine (i feel like that all the time till this day). So, I’m the best friend to many, yet I feel like a liar to myself (oh God... this sounds soo familiar... I was telling some of my friends how my best feature is my ability to BS everything). Even though I had been successful in my high school years, I have never felt one day anxiety free because of school and classes. When I laugh joke or play, it is exaggerated or over played. When I cry, I cry too much. When I deal with money, I budget too accurately. When I clean I am a perfectionist. But at the same time, when I am pressured into doing something, I’m dependent, and people see me as being really strong, but I feel broken and unable to do what I really am capable of doing. When I think, in my head I know I am still a child, and people treat me like a child with restrictions and curfews. People never realize that I was nurtured as an adult. I was robbed of my childhood, 4 years of it. When I am talked to people should look at me and think she’s at least 21 not 17 (lol what's funny is that, now that I'm 21... i feel like people should treat me like a 45 year old.. cuz that's what a personality test told me my age-mentality was), because I have done as much as the average 21 year old would do (yet, i missed out on what the average 12 year old got to experience).
Basically, I still have a few more years to experience adolescence (lol.. not anymore). For now, even though I did a lot of childish things in my life, I am an adult (that still applies). I consider myself 21, even though all documents pertaining to my life state that I am 17 because my date of birth is 11/24/1987 (okay... well now i'm really 21... so this doesn't really apply.. like i said i feel 45). Till now, my parents treat me like a child, but at the same time treat me like a full grown adult through their hopes that I will help them out and assume responsibility when needed (still sooo true). When they complain I have to help them solve their problems and talk to them. But, when I complain about things to them, I am considered a whiny teenager, who does not know anything (soooooo true!!!!). Although, I love the fact that I get to finish school early, and hopefully higher education as well, I want to be able to go out and party with my friends, I want to go to concerts, I want to have enough time to go see a movie not making plans to go out but just getting up and going. I want free time. I don’t think I’ll ever know what I want, because I want to be treated as adult yet, I’m still considered a child, and sometimes I want to be considered just that I know everything that goes on around me is the result of my own actions, but the question for me is did I grow up too fast, or did I never grow at all?
--- I feel like that till this day... I mean, I feel like I'm too old for my age... but at the same time.. I feel like a little kid who doesn't know what they want out of life... Lately, I've been experiencing my Mid-Life Crisis... and given the history report I just shared... well.. it only makes sense to experience it.. you know.. 20 years early.. sigh.
Anyway.. I pray that one day I'll figure it out... inshaAllah salam -reem