Why 9 years old is the best age

One of my favorite ways to enjoy the carefree days of summer is to work with kids between the ages of 6 - 10 years old as a camp counselor. There is something about that age—6 to 10—that evokes complete authenticity. It seems people are their most authentic selves around the age of nine. That’s because, according to Piaget, we have mastered our sensorimotor, preoperational, and concrete stages: we are able to understand ourselves, the world around us, and we can think logically. However, we have not yet been influenced by peer pressure or become overwhelmed by abstract thinking.

At nine years old, we humans have decided who we are, what brings us joy, and how amazing the world is—and we want to explore it! Our curiosity ignites within us and we see everything as wonderful and amazing. We want to explore, create, and build.

And justice trumps all; children between the ages of 6 - 10 are acutely aware of justice and injustice. They know what is fair and what is not, and when you step back to observe, you’ll notice a group of kids around these ages will slowly arrange themselves into a microcosm of society. They will work it out on their own, and generally, a majority of the kids know what is right and what is wrong and how to solve social issues.

But, more than anything, kids in this age group see the beauty in the world. They are grateful for what they have. They find joy in the small things. And they have fun with each other. And, isn’t that the point of life? Sure, they fight over who is first in line (which doesn’t end in adulthood), but they eventually get over it and become distracted by a butterfly, which makes them smile. They move on, quickly. And they laugh, easily. And they cry when they need to. And their intuition tells them which people to steer clear of, and which people to hold hands with. They don’t make apologies for being themselves, except for when they’ve actually hurt your feelings—and for that they’re truly sorry. Let’s all be more like that.

I miss the joys of being a nine-year-old, when I was a champion Irish dancer, confident in my athletic ability, with a zest for life, a curiosity about science, a love for nature, a wonder about the world… I miss staring up into the clouds and imagining unicorns prancing upon the air… I miss believing that gnomes and fairies lived where the fireflies rested. I miss being silly and weird without worrying what people thought of me. I miss dreaming.

If we could all embrace our inner nine-year-old and revert back to our authentic selves, I think we’d all be a lot happier. But the whole picking your nose and eating your boogers thing? Yeah, let’s leave that in the past.

Notable quotes from this week:  

  • “I want to live inside a washing machine.” - J., 7
  • “I don’t know how my grandparents manage their money—they don’t even have jobs!” P., 6
  • “Are we going to take the same train back at the end of the day? Oh, good. Because I left my hat on the train this morning.” - M., 9
  • “I have heartburn.” A., 9


*This post is part of ChicagoNow’s “Blogapalooza Hour” where bloggers are given a topic to write about by a certain deadline. Today’s topic was “Write about a person, place or thing that you miss.” 




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