when you’re five years old

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when you’re five years old, you don’t know about tomorrow. you know that bump down in the sidewalk when you’re in the wagon goes like this: ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum-DUM. 


when you’re five years old, you know the path to the park like the back of your own hand. if you cared to learn about the back of your own hand, if you could see the skin beneath the dark gray, dried sparkly dirt. 


when you’re five years old, you don’t worry about an hour ago. you worry about whether Wyle E. Coyote will catch the Road Runner, big brother says so. 


when you’re five years old, anyone over 4 feet tall, with clean hands and brushed hair is met with suspicion until they pick a better hiding spot than you. 


when you’re five years old, you don’t care about the president. you care about what’s your dessert in your TV-dinner. will it be the apple turnover or the cherry pie? you also plan to eat that first because you know they’ll make you eat your veggies first if they catch you.  


when you’re five years old, you don’t care about china. you care about what you’ll be for halloween. and if old mrs. neill will give out pennies again instead of candy. you hate it when she does that, even though your parents say it’s better than candy. 


when you’re five years old, you see everyone’s bellies before you see their faces. some bellies are big and you bump into them and others have belts, sashes, purses in front of them. 


when you’re five years old, your hands are dirty, sticky sweaty, nimble and strong. they can make mud cakes with your eyes closed and top them with the poisonous red berries your mom told you not to eat. 


when you’re five years old, you know which tree branches are the strong ones and which branches are not as strong. you know which branch to stand on for launching paper airplanes to get the best loft. 


when you’re five years old, you don’t go to school, you go to kindergarten and that’s better than school. 


when you’re five years old, snow is just like dirt except that it’s cold, wet and clean.  snow-cold is never really cold and wet, red hands from soppy mittens don’t feel bad until they come off.


when you’re five years old, a glass of milk and a peanut butter and bacon sandwich tastes better than candy and you don’t care for anything else for weeks. no, really, you don’t. even if little brother makes a barfy face. 


when you’re five years old, cleaning your room is stupid and under the bed is a secret hiding spot. oh! that’s where your bear went! 


when you’re five years old, brushing your teeth is boring so swishing your mouth with toothpaste works just as good. 


when you’re five years old, ski wax is great for putting up posters


when you’re five years old, any blank wall space is a canvas and people look like eggs and don’t have bodies; their heads are their bodies and their arms come from where the ears are on other peoples’ drawings.  


when you’re five years old, a spoon is a shovel and a fork has too many points, so you push part of the fork against a wall to bend a point.  now it works.


when you’re five years old, a tennis ball is big. throwing a tennis ball very far is hard.


when you’re five years old, a cat’s back is as high as your knees and picking them up takes all your muscles.


when you’re five years old, the wind outside sounds like a monster. 


when you’re five years old, crayons melt on the furnace vent.


when you’re five years old, your Big Bird record player makes fun noises when you rub the needle against a washcloth.


when you’re five years old, you can’t reach the faucet, so you put your stomach on the counter and hold your breath to reach to turn on the water. 


when you’re five years old, the attic is haunted and you don’t like to pass by its door on your way to your bedroom. 


when you’re five years old, a dress over pajamas is suitable for trips to the bank with dad.


when you’re five years old, you hold everything with two hands and you stare at it if you’re walking with it and it has water in it.  


when you’re five years old, banisters are the quickest way downstairs for teddy bears in blankies. 


when you’re five years old, the inside curve in the back staircase where you can’t be seen from the top or the bottom is the best place to hide when you’re gonna get in trouble


when you’re five years old, bedtime is for tearing your favorite pages out of your Babar books and sleeping with them. 


when you’re five years old, doing your own hair is mandatory. if you don’t like your bangs, you just cut them and they are gone. and bangs can never be too short. even if mom disagrees.


when you’re five years old, you have your front teeth, unless you lose them during a game of cops and robbers with your big brother when you slip and fall and have to rush to children’s hospital to have them taken out. 


when you’re five years old, tricycles are for babies. big wheels are for winners. health-tex vested pant-suits are The Best for meetings, mary janes are better than sneakers and speed rules. 

this is me when i was five. 


if you’re not five years old, remember these things for your friends who are five years old. maybe they can remind you to loosen up, cut your own bangs and feel how cool it is to be a kid. 

10 responses »

  1. Reading this I find … I'm still five. In a lot of ways.The second point made me smile hugely .. my baby (who is now 8) led his Oma to the park far away from home when he was about 7 months old. He couldn't talk yet, just whole-hand-pointed and made those "eh ehh eh" noises. It's a good 15 minute walk. :-)I really like this post. And speed still rules, forty-some-odd years later.

  2. thank you pinwheelsandpoppies! (i love that handle!) i appreciate your comments! we're never too old to be five again. i am tempted to melt some crayons somewhere… 🙂

  3. Thank you, Renee! i am glad you liked it. five was a great time for me, being the middle child, only daughter. my older brother is +4 and my younger is -4 so i was "colonized" so to speak, but still very much my own island. i appreciate the plug and after the day i had today (my youngest was in the ER for a fall in P.E.) i am actually thinking about perhaps making it a book for my kids.

  4. i LOVE the eh-ehh-ehs! when my first (almost 14) was wee and preverbal, and he wanted "again" of sometthing, i would say "a-gain?" and he would nod and utter, "ah-ehh?" and it became our world, a dance. when our third came around, i saw my first say "again?" to him and the baby would say "ah-ehh?" and i set off like a top. my world had come full circle. speed does rule; just remember those mary janes, girl. 😉

  5. Hi Carrie! Thanks for stopping by. I am so glad you liked it. It seemed to resonate with a lot of people. We were all 5 once, y'know? Have a great day and make yourself at home.

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