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The best of both worlds

Sometimes I act like I'm five. And sometimes I'm so convincing that I forget I'm actually a legal adult who can do fun things like call the numbers advertised on infomercials, and buy cold medicine, and have the water bill put under my name.

Instead, I become convinced that I am indeed five years old, and I get to do things that are almost as fun, like putting on rainboots and going puddle-jumping or spending the afternoon sitting upside-down on the couch flipping through channels at a dizzying pace.

While the fact that my mental maturity sometimes becomes equivalent to that of a small child should probably incite some sort of nervousness, concern or curiosity as to what's wrong with me, it's usually far too much fun for any such cognitive nonsense. Truth be told... I wish I was five.

This isn't just because it would be a grand excuse for not doing my calculus homework, or because that was a really easy year for the "What's your natural hair color?" question because I still knew the answer at that point. I don't think it's because everything was "simple" or "easy" before there were AP exams and early Saturday mornings after late Friday nights and decisions about college and clothes and character.

Being five wasn't "easy." I recall bawling for an entire car ride home from the Wisconsin Dells because I didn't get the spinning ballerina lollipop I wanted from the candy store. Life was rough, emotions were high, stresses were abundant. But I also remember arriving home, after what must've been several delightful hours for my parents, and forgetting the ballerina (almost) entirely because my new purple stationery set had come in the mail while we'd been away. Easy fix.

It's not the resiliency I envy, either -- I can still cry my mascara down my face, holler angrily, and laugh until my stomach muscles ache all within a five-minute span. Just ask my baffled boyfriend. He'll be the one standing and watching my best attempts at being bipolar with a quizzical but amused expression.

I have a cousin who could order off of the 12-and-under menu when she was 17, 18, 19. A nose piercing followed up by one through her lower lip decidedly shoved a cork in such exploits, but she's an excellent example of retaining a useful degree of childishness.

When my pal Morgan was five, she often used the mallet from that toy where you hammer the shapes into the corresponding holes to whack people; last fall, she and I spent a good 20 minutes testing each other's reflexes by smacking our knees with gavels from student congress. She hasn't changed very much in 11 years. I haven't, either.

I'm quite certain that I will never be able to pick up a marker for the tiniest task without finding the color smudged all over my hands afterwards. I still have unexplained bruises on my legs and arms on any given day of the week, and I still get irrationally upset when the indigo hue becomes that sickish yellow tint that isn't nearly so pretty.

There are, however, some notable differences from then to now. When my dad gets home from work he doesn't pick me up and swing me around like he did when I weighed 40 pounds (I really miss that one). My mom doesn't let me stick the lasagna noodles in the pan perpendicular to the layers anymore (it tasted more like a 90 degree angle that way). When I go to the bank I don't get offered suckers, and my teachers expect me to be able to spell "purple" without any assistance whatsoever (boo on both accounts).

I guess being older means that other people look at me differently, even if I haven't actually gotten any more mature. This makes them expect me to behave differently than when I was five, which makes sense, but isn't always reality.

I am growing up, though. I can tell. I lost my rain boots, so instead I drive through puddles really fast in my car, because now I can drive. When I get bored during class, instead of just poking at the tip of my nose, I twirl my nose ring around in circles -- because I can get things pierced without permission. The guys I hang out with still burp words, but now they can belch full sentences, too, because they're getting more eloquent. Sort of.

I think I've got the best of both worlds, baby.