Tall Child

written by Madison Spiegel


The world can seem so big, even to the tallest children.

“Lately, I’ve been crying like a tall child,” these lyrics sung by Mitski often replay in my head. I reflect back on what it means to be a tall child, not literally but figuratively. Growing up too fast is inevitable. It’s something that is going to happen whether we like it or not. It is our human nature to be in a rush, especially when it comes to growing up. Then when you wake up one morning suddenly realizing that you’ve grown, you are scrambling to get back. 

I often think back to a particular day from my childhood when my family took a trip to Holiday World, an amusement park. While the drive seemed long, I think it was my anticipation for what was to come that made this drive feel never-ending. When we got there, I practically leapt out of the car before we were even at a full stop, sprinting to the first ride I could find, ultimately stumbling upon The Voyager. In that moment at Holiday World, all that mattered to me was being able to ride on the rollercoaster that my big brother was going on, but to my dismay, I was too short. 

Now I’ve grown and recently gone back to Holiday World, and as I walked past that very same ride, The Voyager, my eyes caught sight of a little girl in an eerily similar situation to mine. She stood up as straight as possible, lifting her chin in a bout of confidence trying in her last-ditch effort to somehow convince this poor security guard that she was in fact tall enough, grown up enough. Just like me though, she was not. I wish I could’ve told her to cherish that moment and take it with her everywhere she went. Told her to hold this moment as tight to her chest as she did with her endless supply of American Girl dolls that are getting lonely since she started spending more time attempting to recreate the makeup she longingly watches her mother apply. I wish I could have somehow made her realize that she in fact should be jumping with joy over the fact that she can’t get onto this rollercoaster, not moping and dreaming of the day she gets older so that she can finally do the things that are only for the big girls, the tall children. I tore my eyes away from the little girl I envied so greatly, and looked up at this roller coaster that seems to cause more trouble than the security guards know how to handle. 

The Voyager, in all its glory, made me realize just how overrated the things that only “grown-ups” get to do are. I looked around the park, suddenly feeling like I’m being suffocated since my bubble of innocence burst long ago. It was at this point where I was able to acknowledge all the rides catered to children. The seats are colorful and filled with children who emit a glow, one of innocence I like to think, that once it’s gone is lost forever. As I glanced back down to the girl, it took everything in me to contain my emotions and hold myself back from sprinting to her side so that I can let her in on the secret of life.

 I’ve come to the daunting realization that I simply just want to be her. I want to go back. I long to be as naive and unknowing as I know she is, something that, in her case, I fear won’t last much longer. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote it best in The Great Gatsby, when Daisy found out she was having a daughter, “I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool-that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” The Voyager once represented independence and freedom, but now it represents the haunting feeling of nostalgia. In the end, we are all just tall children, forced to grow up too quickly.