Quote on childhood, from “Geek Love”

It is, I supposed, the common grief of children at having to protect their parents from reality.  It is bitter for the young to see what awful innocence adults grow into, that terrible vulnerability that must be sheltered from the rodent mire of childhood.

Can we blame the child for resenting the fantasy of largeness?  Big, soft arms and deep voices in the dark saying, “Tell Papa, tell Mama, and we’ll make it right.”  The child, screaming for refuse, senses how feeble a shelter the twig hut of grown-up awareness is.  They claim strength, these parents, and complete sanctuary.  The weeping earth itself knows how desperate is the child’s need for exactly that sanctuary.  How deep and sticky is the darkness of childhood, how rigid the blades of infant evil, which is unadulterated, unrestrained by the convenient cushions of age and its civilizing anesthesia.

Grownups can deal with scraped knees, dropped ice-cream cones, and lost dollies, but if they suspected the real reasons we cry they would fling us out of their arms in horrified revulsion.  Yet we are small and as terrified as we are terrifying in our ferocious appetites.

We need that warm adult stupidity.  Even knowing the illusion, we cry and hide in their laps, speaking only of defiled lollipops or lost bears, and getting a lollipop or a toy bear’s worth of comfort.  We make do with it rather than face alone the cavernous reaches of our skulls for which there is no remedy, no safety, no comfort at all.  We survive until, by sheer stamina, we escape into the dim innocence of our own adulthood and its forgetfulness.

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