LAURA CARTLEDGE Life’s like That...Let children be children – they’re in too much of a rush to grow up

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When did children stop being children?

Excuse me while I climb on to my soapbox but it is mad. I’ve seen girls, who can’t be any older than ten, standing at the make-up counter and discussing which foundation is best.

And there are children communicating by mobile phone when they should still be at the two-cans-and-a-piece-of-string stage.

I know some of it is down to parental guidance, and it is a personal thing. But for me, seeing a baby with pierced ears means I have to stop myself shuddering. And discovering there are now high heels for toddlers made me so sad I was speechless.

I’ll be honest – I’ve always acted older than my age. In the past it has even led a friend to say ‘you don’t have an inner child, you have an inner OAP’.

Perhaps that is where my desire to tut and moan about ‘the youth of today’ is coming from. But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the joys of climbing a tree or building a fort.

What has induced this moan, you may wonder?

It was a weekend of good old family fun. My little cousins came to stay, aged two and four, who are certainly still in the midst of what childhood should be all about – endless imagination and energy.

Granted, there were times when it was more welcome than others. At 7am on the dot my sister and I were awoken by little hands opening my big bedroom door. It was the only warning before a bundle of limbs dived on to the duvet, impersonating the neighbour’s cockerel, before climbing the length of the bed and wiggling under the covers between us.

I then made the fatal mistake of opening my eyes and found myself nose to nose with someone so adorable any morning grump goes out the window.

Luckily for me my sister is even more susceptible to the children’s charms and within minutes I could hear them all playing. The next time I saw my sister she was wearing a tutu, a blanket cape and a look of get-up-and-help-me.

The rest of the weekend was equally filled with adventures. Even the early Easter bunny visited to join in the fun before we went to catch crabs and build castles at the beach.

I just wish they could stay that age forever and yet they seem to be growing in front of my eyes. I don’t understand the rush to grow up.

Childhood is so precious and so short – something I have really come to appreciate since becoming an almost permanent resident of the adult world.