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So I guess I should preface this with a little information about myself. I’m a second grade teacher in a private (international) school in China.

Growing up, I always dreamed of being older. I figured by 25 I’d be super cool, famous, and have enough money to have a swimming pool outside my mansion. Well, I’m 25, living in a tiny apartment, definitely not famous, and I’m not even sure I’m ‘cool’, let alone super cool. Anyway, growing up I always yearned for ‘older’ to come quick. It’s a cliche but I definitely didn’t appreciate being young while I was living it.

Lately I’ve found myself becoming jealous of the students. The pangs tend to begin on my weekly duty as I stand in the middle of their newly built playground. In the midst of their screams, yelling, running, swinging and general madness, I begin to feel jealous. I’m not jealous of their new equipment, I’m not old enough to complain that all I had was a wooden hoop and a stick to play with, and I was actually fortunate to have a similar playground while I was in school. Today as I stood watching girls flip themselves over while holding the monkey-bars, I had a flashback to a time in my school playground.

I must have been about 8 or 9 and a boy, Joshua, was swinging on the monkey-bars. Now the following situation that I shall describe was highly irregular. I was a rule abiding, glory seeking, goody-two-shoes that would never have broken the rules, so prepared to be shocked and appalled.
I (a little ginger haired girl with stickers and gold stars abound) caused Joshua (who could perhaps be labeled a bit of a scallywag) to break. his. arm.
I know, I know. It’s shocking. I’m surprised they didn’t lock me up and test me to find out if I was a psychopath. I believe that we were messing around and that I pushed him *queue the Eastenders credit music*.

Wait… perhaps I have gone a little off topic. I’m not jealous over the fact I can no long break scallywag boys’ arms. I mean I’m sure I could try and break a man’s arm, but that’s called assault and I am not prepared for prison.

It’s the whole situation that I’m jealous of.

The running around without a reason or an emergency. If I suddenly decided to run into the playground, tap another teacher on the shoulder, shout “YOU’RE IT!” before retreating to a safe distance, I know that I’d be sat down for a talk about my strange behavior. Nor can I decide to just hang about in a tree, without someone asking me if I’m feeling okay. I can’t just make strange noises or scream in the middle of a crowd because I don’t want to do something, or because I’m scared of someone catching me, or because I’m having a good time, or the hundred other reasons kids find to scream. The innocence of hanging around in a playground, pushing other people for fun, singing silly songs that make no sense.

I’m jealous of their innocent minds. Yes, they have pressure and responsibilities and their world seems that little more scary than mine did when I was little. But they’re still so full of wonder and questions. They have no real idea of what awaits them not a long time down the road. They get to learn so many new things, and some of those things will make them gasp in amazement. Whenever I learn something new or interesting that makes me gasp, I feel like a nerd. They have hobbies and interests and they’re encouraged to continue with them. I know so many adults that don’t actually have any hobbies.
I’m jealous of the amount and variety of clubs that they can choose from. If they want to play on a team then there’s numerous choices; if they want to play an instrument then they can give any a go; if they want to help the environment or learn or a language or join a singing group, then they just need to ask. As an adult I miss that so much. I miss the variety. I miss that you could try things and give up and not feel the weight of responsibilities upon your shoulders. I miss the days when you could say something a little crazy or wrong, and the looks would be more of a ‘Aw, so young’ rather than ‘Are you stupid?’ I miss those foolish things that childhood would have given me a free pass for.

I miss singing in my lunch hour with my friend playing the piano. I miss moving from class to class learning so many things that I thought would help me in the real world – although I’ve used so few of them. I miss having people believe in me, rather than people who count me as another worker bee. I miss the complete innocence and unguarded craziness that was allowed as a child, before someone put me into a mould, gave me a societal rule book, and told me to just face it all on my own.