Few changes accompany bittersweet sixteen

By  Danica Kindrachuk, Youth Speak News
  • May 22, 2007
I just turned 16 years old.  Wow!  I seem so old!  If you’d asked me even five years ago what I thought I would be like, I don’t know what I would have answered, but it was probably not this. I imagined my birthday would be something huge, something life changing, something so big that I couldn’t even imagine it. Yet I woke up that morning and, surprisingly, nothing really seemed different. I didn’t physically change in any way and I didn’t feel that different emotionally either.
Even though I didn’t notice any big changes the morning I officially turned 16, gradually over the years I have noticed things that have changed. Some seem trivial to me now, but at one time they would have been huge. My parents go to sleep before I do and it’s me who goes to say goodnight to them in bed. My mom doesn’t cut up the meat for supper for the kids any more. If I happen to get in a fight with my sisters, we usually solve it ourselves without our parents as mediator.

I’ve also realized that different behaviour is expected in social situations. When I was five, I probably could have gotten away with crying and screaming if I fell and hurt myself in public. If I fell today, I would probably be looked at very strangely. There was never a time when the clock ticked and all of a sudden this behaviour was no longer acceptable. Things just gradually changed.

These changes aren’t necessarily bad or good — just different. There are, however, some advantages and disadvantages to getting older. The main advantage of turning 16 is being able to drive. This is a symbol of freedom and of society no longer treating you as a child. It is an amazing feeling to be in a car, knowing that you alone are now in charge of the huge machine. Yet the major disadvantage is having to go run errands for my parents.

There are also more responsibilities and expectations. It is sometimes sad to think how fast I’m leaving childhood. Gone are the days when summers were spent playing, running around and doing nothing. Now I worry about getting a job and what activities I should be involved in to help my chances of getting into college. Behavioural expectations are different too. Sometimes I wish I could be five again, go to a birthday party and play pin the tail on the donkey and just be silly. If kids my age even have birthday parties any more, they are drastically different than when we sent out colourful invitations and had piñatas.

While it is nice to think that I’m on my way to becoming my own independent person who is capable of living alone, I sometimes wish I could go back to those days of playing tag at the park, running around, splashing in puddles, riding bikes and not having to think about what I want to do with the rest of my life. I would just be. Yet again, I do like the feeling of being able to drive that car:.

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