When exactly does childhood end?

According to Disney, I stopped being a child at age 9. According to my former church’s children’s chorus, it happened at age 13. According to restaurant menus, it can happen anywhere from age 9 to 12. And I was told to stop being a child at age 5.

I recently read a discussion in which people were trying to figure out what maturity was. The end agreement was this: Boys become men when they prefer personality over appearance. Girls become women when they know the difference between boys and men and prefer the latter.

Ignoring all of the issues with that, let’s take it at face value. Is that really all there is to it? Is childhood that linear and clear-cut?

At what point do you stop being a child?

When you stop reading children’s stories? Or when you realize you’ve stopped reading children’s stories? When you prefer to order off the “grown-up” menu? When your imagination seems to stop growing?

Do you stop being a child where the sidewalk ends? Or does childhood keep on going, far beyond where you can see?

You know who liked imagination? Albert Einstein. He once said,

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Keep on dreaming, my lovelies. Imagination has nothing to do with your childhood.

Keep reading children’s stories–they open you up to new worlds.

Childhood only ends when you want it to.

I will always be a child. Life is more exotic and fascinating this way.

Take some time and think about what childhood is to you. Reflect on your conclusions. Write down what you glean from your reflections. Write a short story in which a character wants to continue a habit he or she has had since childhood, but another character (or group) wants him/her to stop it and grow up according to their own definition.

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