There once was a baby. He did the things that most babies do. He cried when he needed something. He slept most of the time. He was completely reliant upon his mother for everything. He understood little of emotions, nothing of speech, and was not even aware of the world outside his own. He knew no good. He knew no evil. He didn't know there were girls. All he knew was instinct - as most babies do.

There once was a toddler. He did the things that most toddlers do. He ate when his mother fed him or he asked for a snack. He napped when he needed to. He played innocently with his friends (both visible and invisible). When he was good he was rewarded. When he was evil he was punished. Thus did he begin to grasp the concept of morality. His was a world filled with speech and emotion, of trial and error. When he got what he wanted he was happy. When he didn't, he cried. He was aware of the world around him, and very inquisitive about it, but he could not understand true evil - only what his parents told him was wicked. He knew not of the atrocities man commits against himself, and was still very much sheltered from the outside world. He knew girls existed. He was a toddler.

There once was a boy. He did the things that most boys do. He went to school, he made friends. His life was no longer completely dictated by his parents, and his personality had begun to develop. He ate when he wanted to. He was now expected to to be good - and was punished for being evil. He knew the boundaries and kept to them - but failed to grasp why they were in place. He knew of the world - but did not quite understand it yet. He was still very inquisitive and asked many questions. He began to hunger for maturity so that he may understand. He knew of girls and was repulsed by them. He was a boy.

There was once an adolescent. He did the things most adolescents do. He had a circle of friends, whom he spent most of his time with. For the most part, he was accountable for his actions. He ate and slept when he wanted. He knew morality - and he understood it well. He knew the boundaries and grasped them. He also broke the boundaries often, mostly out of rebellion. He began to find out who he was - he rebelled against conformity. His quest was one for individuality, and he wondered where his place would be. He longed to be older so that he would know. He knew of girls and was very attracted to them. He went on a few dates. He felt acceptance and rejection. But he failed to understand girls and lost quite a few friends along the way. He was an adolescent.

There is a young man. He does the things that most young men do. He relies on his parents solely for food and money and occassional counsel, but mostly remains at odds with them. Not only does he know morality, but he questions it. He breaks boundaries not out of rebellion but out of idealism. His views have taken shape. He realizes that he still must find himself, but a great amount of his individuality has formed. He knows his preferences in girls - but he also accepts that he is far from a guru in the realm of the opposite sex. He no longer wishes to grow old so fast and instead reflects at times over who he once was. He knows that he has come a long way, but also that he still has a great deal more maturing to do. He is somewhat reluctant to do so, for finally does he realize how carefree his former days have been and how carefree they still are compared to what's next. This young man is forced into his future, while trying to grab what's left of his past. This young man is me.

I often reflect on days that have gone by. I look upon them with a mixture of sadness and humor. No longer will I cry when I need anything or be completely reliant on another as an infant. Never again can I learn to tie my shoe or have an imaginary friend as a toddler. Never again will I be a superhero or be given "the talk" as a boy. Never again will I rebel out of spite as an adolescent. In my road to adulthood I will make many more mistakes, lose many a friend, agonize over myriads of females, and not live up to my responsibilities. I would give anything to be able to talk to a girl without thinking of sexuality, to act without consequence, to play casually in the backyard without a care in the world, to be able to tell my mom I love her with the meaning and nonchalance that I used to. You gain some and lose much while growing up and its too bad it can't be both ways. For often I long for such days as I have seen but never will see again. I take some comfort in the fact that they will always be a part of me. Such are the casualties of maturity.

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