A few weeks ago, I was at Dubai’s tacky somewhat-but-not theme park, Global Village. I won a giant flamingo on some little ducky fishing game (and when I say giant, I mean GIANT), went a ride on the highest swings, and was then happily chomping my way through a chocolate chip ice cream cone dusted with sprinkles. “I am literally living my childhood dream.” I thought to myself.
When I was seven years old, that was probably all that I wanted life, and I allowed my inner seven year old self to relish in that during my visit to Global Village. But now that I am a fully fledged adult, there are some things that I do on a regular basis that my seven year old self would probably be quite disappointed, horrified and downright disgusted by.
I am going to start with food. You couldn’t have paid me a fiver to eat a piece of broccoli when I was seven. I know this because my parents often tried to bribe me with money and sweets under my downright refusal to eat sometimes anything – let alone anything green. I mean, as a seven year old in the mid nineties, a fiver was quite a lot of money. It was halfway to a new barbie, or a small Playmobile set, and yet, still I refused to eat. I used to chew my food into small tiny chunks, and store it in my mouth like a hamster waiting for a moment when I could go to the toilet and spit it out. That’s how dedicated to the cause my stubborn seven year old self was. This morning, I had broccoli with my breakfast and my inner seven year old self had a tantrum. Yesterday I had broccoli with lunch, and I ate it the day before with my dinner, and guess what, while my seven year old self would have cried, I bloody enjoyed that broccoli.
Another thing that my seven year old self hated, was bedtime. When I was seven, we moved to a converted loft apartment in an old warehouse, and as we lived in the roof, my bedroom had sloping windows. At that time, black out roller blinds were so expensive because they had to be custom made. This meant that I had no blinds, and the sunlight shone into my window, ALL DAY long. For those of you unfamiliar with Scottish seasons*, during the Scottish ‘summer’ it can stay light up until 9pm. As a seven year old, I felt like wee Calimero, it was a downright injustice that I was to be sent to bed at 8pm on a school night when it was still light outside, especially when I could hear the older kids still outside playing! I came to dread Coronation Street finishing because that theme tune only came to represent BEDTIME. Now that I am an adult, I’ve come to realise, that my poor mum probably lived for 8pm each night because it meant that she finally got peace, and she too, could also go to bed. As an adult, from the moment I open my eyes, all I can think about is how good it’s going to feel when I can finally get back into my warm and cosy bed. If I was to describe how it feels when that alarm goes off in the morning (or more accurately for me, at 2am before a fourteen hour flight and an eighteen hour duty) the most accurate depiction that springs to mind, is that it’s like a child being born. It literally feels like being ripped from the womb, where you were bobbing along all warm and content, dreaming of lovely things, and then all of a sudden you are forced out in the real world where it is sterile, freezing cold and you have people staring in your face. This is why I am not a morning person.
Seven year old me, would also be really disappointed to find out that my childhood dream of becoming an air hostess really does not live up to its expectation, either. In fact, it’s nothing really at all like I imagined it. Despite spending half of my life in airports, I have never enjoyed a leisurely coffee in an airport, whilst watching planes take off, however, I have grabbed numerous takeaway coffees whist rushing through duty-free en route to a flight as a means of survival. I might have traveled the world numerous times, but I have yet to swim with sharks, or meet anyone really famous which were probably my seven-year old goals. Contrary to popular belief, I rarely get a chance to peruse duty free unless I am travelling for a personal trip, and even at that, due to my staff travel restrictions, sometimes I have to wait until the last-minute to find out if I am even getting on the flight, which means a sprint the gate! I do not get three days in Mauritius, to sun and lounge myself. I do no get a week in New York to float around like the next Carrie Bradshaw, and my uniform is anything but chic and provocative (shout out to Etihad and Virgin who take that crown) – in fact, wearing it, I feel like a sack of potatoes. The list could go on in terms of why my seven year old self would be disappointed to learn that working is infinitely less fun in reality than it is in childhood dreams, but we will save that for another post.
My seven-year old self would also be disappointed to know that despite having the opportunity to eat sweets whenever I want, including for breakfast, that I limit sweet intake, and spend a large portion of my day trying to avoid eating the jar of Nutella that lurks in the back of the cupboard with a spoon. This is because I now have to frequent the gym as a means of keeping fit and ensuring that my clothes fit. It’s quite hilarious, that I now pay a gym membership to endure what my seven-year old self would have called torture. Never a fan of running and cross-country (in school – I used to fake notes excusing me from PE), I now try to go to the gym at least three times a week where this terribly tall dark and handsome but very cruel gym instructor barks at me and the rest of the twenty-strong, class to “RUN FASTER” while my face resembles a tomato in a heat wave. EMBARRASSING.
I also wanted to live in another country since forever. At one point, most probably during the phase where my mother and I were in a loggerheads regarding my refusal to eat, I made a little chart and stuck it to my wall. ‘Countdown to Canada’. It was a little sheet that I had worked out how many days** it would be until I turned eighteen, and therefore, a countdown until the day I could move to Canada. In all my innocence and naivety, seven-year old me was unawares to all of visa, education and financial implications that accompany moving country, but the point is, I still did it. Although, my seven year old self would probably, (just like my adult self does) question how the country I came to move to turned into the UAE – a far cry from Canada. I’d like to tell the younger me that despite me thinking for all those years that Canada was always the one for me, that in reality, I think I might have found Canada a bit boring. Everything is all spread out and far apart, and it gets really very cold. Imagine how much less of a morning person I’d be in -35 weather? I am not a morning person in 35 degree weather!!! Winter clothes might be more appealing in theory, but dressing like the Michelin man and having that constant runny red nose feel is not actually that fun in reality. Bare legs and beach hair is much more up my street these days.
My seven-year old self also begged for a pet. All I wanted in my childhood was a pet and finally my mum caved in and bought me Harry the hamster. God knows why I called him Harry, but if his name sounds cute, his personality most definitely wasn’t. A vicious beast who chomped through my hand on several occasions, meant that I was too scared to clean his cage, so my mum reached the conclusion that as I couldn’t look after a hamster, I sure as hell couldn’t look after a cat, so we remained pet-less (after Harry went to hamster Heaven). Now an adult with my own place, I have two kittens, Gustavo and Penelope, and now I completely understand why my mother was averse to having pets. Despite me loving them with all my heart, there are days when I could literally give them away to the first person who would take them. Just two days ago, Gus managed smash a little jewellery dish that I loved, and a brand new Sephora serum that I had purchased a mere TWO hours before, and Penny managed to claw one corner of the sofa to shreds so badly that I am pretty sure it’s un-salvageable, as well as pull down the clothes hooks from the back of the bathroom door. Gus also has a sensitive stomach, bless him, and on three occasions to date, he has had to take a cat bath. Have you ever tried to bath a cat, or clean out a litter tray with a severe hangover? I can assure you, it is nothing short of traumatic for all parties involved, and even though I wouldn’t change having them for the world, it is only now, that I understand why my mum couldn’t be bothered to have a pet. It is hard work, people.
Finding a prince is also hard work people, and while my seven-year old self endlessly doodled princess and wedding dresses, I guess she would be quite disappointed to discover that this princess hasn’t actually found anyone that made her feel like a queen yet, despite almost being thirty. (Also, I’d like to point out to my childhood self, that Princess Diana’s wedding dress was actually very ugly, and that my mum was right when she told me that when I grew up, I 100% would not want to wear white knee high boots to my wedding…) But I would really like to tell my seven-year old self, that princes are hard to come by in a world filled with frogs, and so it’s more important to focus on yourself first. That means, eating the broccoli, having fun with friends and searching for a career that looks after you ’til you love yourself more than a prince could ever love you.
But perhaps, the worst thing of all, that my seven-year old self would be disappointed to know is that in real life, £100 is really not a lot of money. It is a lot of money when you don’t have it, yes, but £100 is not enough money to buy you a tiger, or enough money to buy you a plane ticket to anywhere in the world. £100 won’t buy you a pair of Nike Air Max these days, never mind pay a third of your rent, so every now and again, I am going to allow myself to give in to my younger self, and do silly things, like go to the water park, play Mario Kart for an hour, and eat pancakes for breakfast because for all of the wasted 11:11’s I wished away on being an adult, being grown up isn’t actually all that fun after all.
*TBH, there is only really one. Wet, windy and grey. Except in ‘summer’, it’s slightly less windy.
** Maths (nor PE) wasn’t my strongpoint in school, so I had probably worked it out wrongly anyway.