The time before my teenage years, I couldn’t wait to be a grown-up. I thought that I would still be feeling the excitement of everlasting wonder that I’d felt back then all the way through my last breath. I looked forward to expanding such feelings with the untamed freedom that adults boast about.
As an adult, I can’t help but long for my days as a child. I long for the emotions that seemed to have faded as I began uncovering the darkness that the light has protected me from years ago. I long for the lack of responsibilities and challenges that the next day would bring. I long for the spark that ignited in my eyes and brought happiness to my soul.
I’ve been watching 学園ベビーシッターズ (School Babysitters) lately and, even though it focuses on infants and toddlers, it’s been easier to feel even more nostalgic about the happy adventures of my own childhood.
As A Child...
EVERYTHING WAS AN ADVENTURE
Technology hadn’t taken over. The days were spent outdoors, admiring ant hills, cloud gazing, or climbing trees. Everything around was so big, so intriguing, so beautiful. The screams of excitement and contagious laughter can be heard. Every day brought something new – whether it be learning how to walk, ride a bike, or share a secret – the thrill of it all was gratifying. One day, life was spent exploring the oceans on a boat. The next, dodging lava from an erupted volcano. Life had even taken me to the moon where mini astronauts defy gravity. And, if life wants to slow down, there are new trees being planted, ocean beaches being splashed on, and mouthwatering fruits to munch on. The world was a playground, and every day was an adventure.
EVERY DREAM SEEMED OBTAINABLE
A teacher. A doctor. An astronaut. A dancer. A basketball player. Our dreams were endless – are still endless. The only additional steps are the how’s and what’s. Wishes can be heard from the first star seen each night. Wishes were exciting from blowing out birthday candles. Wishes were requested from the loveable toymaker up north. Worries were close to nonexistent. Dwelling on situations for too long was unheard of, and it was more accepting of getting things wrong the first, second, third, or twentieth try. Tears were only present from scraped knees and elbows…or when Simba lost his father. Because somehow, the pain was almost an illusion. And it was okay to be fearful since there was always something or someone to provide courage. It was like there was this force of light-shielding the pure from experiencing anything more than a magical world.
MASKS WERE WORN ONLY ON HALLOWEEN
Before masks became free and transparent, they were colorful. They were wanted. And unless someone’s job requires a mask, they appeared all around the world only once a year. The time of year that it was visibly acceptable to look and act like someone, something else. To pretend. To release the monsters and not be afraid of them. After all, if there was something that Scooby-Doo taught us, it was that monsters were actually people in disguise, and acknowledging them as kids were easier than being them as adults. Confidence and acceptance were easier to be strong in since society’s standards had not fully trespassed inside the young minds. With masks growing more transparent, back then, they were easier to spot as they were worn only on Halloween.
MAKING CONNECTIONS SEEMED NATURAL
A simple “hello” was all it took to form bonds with someone. Family. Friends. Neighbors. Teachers. Cashiers. It was effortless to keep in touch with people. Sometimes all it took was asking the parents to plan hangouts with other parents and everyone would be there. All that mattered were the fun times, the times spent laughing until our tummies ached. The simple acts of kindness were typically displayed even without them being taught because of such friendships. School initiates friendships. The bond eventually begins growing from mutual interests and activities that are unfortunately rare to solidify as adults. As pure souls, seeing the good in everyone and experiencing life with those who breathe the same air is a bond that seemed indestructible. Making connections was simple. It was effortless. It was second nature.
My Most Cherished Childhood Memories
SPENDING TIME WITH PARENTS
My parents were mostly working, so any days off they had were mini holidays for me, even if we just spent the day indoors watching TV. Now that I’m 1,000+ miles away from them, it’s hard to not miss spending any quality time with them.
PLAYING WITH MY PET DOGS
The best furry companions an only child could ever have. I looked forward to the new batch of puppies we’d gain whenever one of them gets pregnant. The cuteness would always overload, and it was fun playing with them.
HAVING SEEMINGLY ENDLESS ENERGY
I seriously wonder where all of it went because all I crave for now is sleep. Obviously, as a kid, I never drank coffee or any other energizer, yet I’d manage to stay energized throughout the day, even during school days.
SLEEPING ANYWHERE AND WAKING UP IN MY BED
It was mostly when I’d fall asleep in the car. I could feel my dad picking me up, but never worried about having to fully wake up because I enjoyed being carried to bed.
I may or may not have had a chalkboard in my room (or in this case, an imaginary classroom) and taught my imaginary students the lessons I learned from school. My parents may or may not have caught me disciplining my “student” with the whole pointing of finger at the wall where my student is supposed to be sitting. There was also a time when the adults helped us kids build boats out of leftover construction wood and I would pretend to be a pirate along with the other neighborhood kids.
NO CLIQUES / LABELS
I was simply Henritz. I was not a nerd, a loner, a weirdo. Just…me. And I hung out with my friends, people I share common things with, and always had a great time playing with.
Okay, if you have played, or at least heard of, any of these games and toys, we are officially besties: hopscotch, rock-paper-scissors, hide n’ seek, hangman, Beyblade, yoyo, tag, jacks, dodgeball, Teksta Dog, Kickball, jump rope, duck-duck-goose, tic-tac-toe, Flames, MASH, fortune teller, Floor is Lava, Simon Says, hula hoop, Head’s Up Seven Up, Slide [hand clapping game], Barbie, marbles, Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, plastic blocks, Play-Doh, water ring game, Tamagotchi, I Spy, thumb war, and follow the leader.
MOM BEING THE SPOKESPERSON DURING APPOINTMENTS
Since I’ve been going to my appointments on my own, I’ve been greatly missing having my mom with me to help me answer some of their questions or help make the final decisions. At the same time, I’m also glad for pulling up my big girl pants and accomplishing these tasks on my own.
EATING ICE-KEKE / ICE CUPS
I especially enjoyed going to the mini convenient store across from my school just for the ice cups. They were delicious and a great after-school snack.
I know photos can still be printed at the tip of our fingers these days, but there’s just something about classic film photos that are just as meaningful as the digital ones.
RIDING ON SCOOTERS AND BIKES
I loved having a scooter, especially stepping on the brakes. I also enjoyed every moment with my “older brother” riding in the front space of his bike as we explored the neighborhood. He and my dad taught me how to ride a 2-wheeled bike, which further inspired me to get my own and go on solo bike rides around the neighborhood anytime.
I didn’t have many sleepovers in my life. I don’t think I had trouble being away from my parents, so I don’t know why I never really participated in more. The ones I did experience were wonderful. We would do our best to stay up past the early morning, and most of the time we succeeded. We’d spend the night watching movies or binging TV shows while eating junk food.
MORNING / AFTER SCHOOL TV SHOWS
I am only including shows that I’ve seen from 2000-2010. I tried shortening the list, but it was difficult.
All Grown Up! (2003-2008), Arthur (1996-2022), As Told by Ginger (2000-2006), Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008), Baby Looney Tunes (2002-2005), Blue’s Clues (1996-2006), Caillou (1997-2010), CatDog (1998-2005), ChalkZone (2002-2008), Chowder (2007, 2010), Clifford the Big Red Dog (2000-2003), Clifford’s Puppy Days (2003-2006), Codename: Kids Next Door (2002-2008), Courage the Cowardly Dog (1996-2002), Danny Phantom (2004-2007), Dragon Tales (1999-2005), Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends (2004-2009), Franklin (1997-Present), Hey Arnold! (1996-2004), Johnny Test (2005-2014), LazyTown (2004-2014), Little Bear (1995-2001), Max & Ruby (2002-2019), My Life as a Teenage Robot (2003-2009), Rocket Power (1999-2004), Rugrats (1991-2004), Teen Titans (2003-2006), The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius (2002-2006), The Berenstain Bears (2003-2004), The Fairly OddParents (2001-2017), The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy (2001-2007), The Magic School Bus (1994-1997), The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack (2008-2010), The Powerpuff Girls (1998-2005), The Wild Thornberrys (1998-2004), Tom and Jerry, Totally Spies! (2001-Present), Zoboomafoo (1999-2001).
Barney & Friends (1992-2010), Big Time Rush (2009-2013), Bob the Builder (1999-2011), Drake & Josh (2004-2007), Full House (1987-1995), iCarly (2007-2012), Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide (2004-2007), Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996-2003), Teletubbies (1997-2018), The Amanda Show (1999-2002), True Jackson, VP (2008-2011), Unfabulous (2004-2007).
La Fiesta was a popular indoor/outdoor mall in Saipan. It had an arcade, live performances, restaurants, and boutiques. My fondest memory was seeing the dolphin statues stationed in random areas of the place. They were fascinating to me for some reason.
I’d often have to beg my parents to bring me to a playground just so I can either go on the swings or the slides, even if I was going to play on my own. I didn’t care. I was having fun. If any of the neighborhood kids were also home, we’d find ourselves exploring and playing whatever game we’d think of on the spot. One of our favorites being dodgeball.
Is it weird that my favorite thing about Blockbuster was the length of time we can have the DVDs? There was a point when we didn’t have cable, so we rented DVDs, and it was beneficial for us that we didn’t have to return them quickly. It was also lovely spending movie time with my parents.
MAKING BEADED JEWELRY
We learned how to make beaded bracelets and necklaces as an extracurricular activity for school. I loved it. I think I still have some in my physical box of memories. I made a couple of bracelets for my parents and myself. I even began doing them in my own free time.
Carnivals were the best when I was a kid. We had a lot of fun rides, and I remember being afraid of going up the Ferris Wheel because of how the seats would sway and I have a fear of falling down from them. I was also able to try my first dose of Cotton Candy from the carnival and it got me hooked for life.
FANTASY / LEGENDARY FIGURES
To be fair, I only believed in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. And I had a massive crush on Jack Frost. The image that people have given Santa Claus may be through storytelling only, but in my heart, I will always believe that there is a Saint Nick out there giving children the gift of happiness and joy.
Blowing bubbles were one of the best activities to do as a child. I always tried to have at least one bubble last until it stays on a surface for a couple of seconds. And if I was blowing bubble gum, I challenged myself to try and blow the biggest one to see if it would actually splat on my face like the ones shown in cartoons – spoiler – it never happened.
SUNDAY PICNICS / GET-TOGETHERS
Whether the get-togethers were in our front yard or at the park or beach, I never realized how valuable those moments were to me. My parents and our close family/friends would sit around, talk, eat lots of home-cooked meals, and simply relax and enjoy the day. We kids were more focused on playing, with the adults sometimes poking fun at us, but it all came with some good laughs.
MAKING PAPER HATS AND CUPS
I think I learned how to do these from a classmate. I remember having to make paper cups after PE classes when we’d all be tired and thirsty. The hats were also fun to make and very fun for the imaginative pirates we played.
PLAYING DIGITAL SOLITAIRE
One of the first things I learned how to do on a computer was play Solitaire. I especially loved seeing the cards jumping on the screen after winning a game. Solitaire isn’t as boring or lame as most people make it out to be, and I honestly don’t mind playing it occasionally.
The time when coloring books didn’t have numbers that already have designated colors on them. And the challenge of coloring inside the lines was always fun. One of the first things I did when coloring was to outline the image with whatever color I was going to use and then color everything else inside. My most favorite coloring book from back then is definitely Scooby-Doo.
I admit I felt like a badass with the tattoos on my arm and the back of my hand. There’s no changing my mind.
Yes, physical printed newspapers were bought at the stores every morning. While the parents caught up on local news, I always found myself in the entertainment section, first with how my day, as a Scorpio, was going to be. Then, I’d read the comics, and when I was up to it, I’d challenge myself with Sudoku. Newspaper editors managed to find a way to make themselves interesting for kids.
I could write an entire blog post about my childhood holidays and what made them so magical, but for now, all I’m going to say is that holidays as a kid – the love and happiness that I and my close friends and family experienced during Christmas, New Year’s, and the Fourth of July can be felt beyond this universe.
BELIEVING IN 'HAPPY EVER AFTER'
When you’re a kid, everything seemed possible. When you’re an adult, anything is possible. When you’re a kid, the dreams are in your head. When you’re an adult, the choices you make and the belief you have in yourself will bring them to your fingertips.