On being ‘childish’

I’d like to begin with a quote from C.S. Lewis:

“Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even early manhood this concern about being adult is anmark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”–C.S. Lewis.

Since discovering this quote a few years back, I have done my best to live my life by its words. If you keep up with my blog, or even read my About Me page, you realize that I have a lot of interests that may be considered childish by others. For example, I still watch cartoons for children. There was a time when I tried to hide this aspect of myself, not only from my friends but from my parents as well. And even myself. I thought there was something wrong with me for not being interested in more “adult” things, like sports and R-rated movies.

To slide over a part of my life for a different blog post, I got over it.

But every now and then, that shame still crops up. Most recently, this came up over the weekend. A few friends and I found ourselves at Build-a-Bear Workshop at the mall. My brother built a Toothless plushie from How to Train Your Dragon. I considered doing the same, until one of the employees let slip that coming in a few months was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle plushies.

I did not squeal, but I came damn close.

I’ve been waiting for what seemed like ages to finally find TMNT plushes. While I could look online for them, even have some custom made, I never did so because I talked myself out of it. Now though, Build-A-Bear Workshop would have all four of them, with weapons and gear.

I set my calendar for the day I was told they would come out.

I was so excited, that when I came home, I ended up telling my parents about it. My mom just looked at me and rolled her eyes. “How much are those going to cost you?” she asked.

With eager enthusiasm, I said, “Don’t know and don’t care.”

This is a conversation that I’ve had with my parents numerous times. I love Build-A-Bear, and I almost always spend too much money there. My mother has the same reaction every time, and every time, a moment of guilt moves through me. One time, she even said that she was thankful I was into stuff like that, because I could be into much worse things. Like drugs.

As if loving TMNT and stuffed animals and loving drugs were comparable, and of the two, she was glad it was the former.

It almost makes me wonder if my mother is ashamed of me. Ashamed of the video game posters on my walls, ashamed of the My Little Pony stuffed animals my brother and I have (proud Bronies!).

And then I look at the C.S. Lewis quote. And remind myself that, if she is ashamed, then it is she who is acting childish, not I. I like what I like, and denying myself that is hurting no one but myself.

When I get my TMNT plushes from Build-A-Bear, there will be pictures. And I guarantee you, I will be smiling all the way.

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