Section: Opinion

Embrace your inner child, but think twice before commiting a childish act

When my mother talks of the overflowing levels of hippie-dippie friendliness before the cocaine-Sunset-Strip-American-Hustle 1970s that earned the period the forgiving label of “a different time,” she tells a story about losing her camera and finding it later exactly where she left it. She didn’t think much of the incident until after the photos were developed — over half of the roll was taken up by a photo shoot of a handful of teenage boys making dumb faces and messing around with the self-timer. At this point in her story, my mother often waxes poetic about the sincere goofiness that caused the kids to do something so dumb and yet so harmless, and marvels at their good will to leave the camera as it was when they could have stolen it and sold it for tickets to Deep Throat or go to a disco or whatever it was people did in the ’70s. This is the kind of youthful spirit I want in my life.
I feel like the Kenyon community does its best to nurture a certain amount of childlike glee, despite how an Old Kenyon all-campus party can spoil one’s innocence as quickly and harshly as a mean school nurse ripping off a Band-Aid. Part of the Kenyon quirk that supposedly inhabits each student like a cute, less germy version of the krud encourages us to put a paper on the backburner in exchange for a rock-skipping contest in the Kokosing.
Although clearly I am selling myself as the Peter Pan of Kenyon, leading a crowd of Lost People (“the Lost Boys” is so un-PC) around my leafy tree fort at the BFEC, skipping down the Hill chanting “I won’t grow up,” there are some darker sides of embracing childhood I do not tolerate.
The main immature habit I am passionate about eradicating is the mistaken belief that a communal dorm fridge means communal food access. What is now known as “The Great Sandwich Incident” affected me so much that I transformed into a grisly bad cop with a need to interrogate all possible thieving suspects (aka everyone, because I can never trust anyone again). I imagined swinging one of ResLife’s new Seasonal Affective Disorder therapy lights onto a guilty-looking sophomore, asking with a sneer if he went for a cute, quirky day trip with his friends to Granville and put his leftovers in the dorm fridge to have as a Sunday night pick-me-up. The reply would inevitably be “no,” because that was my weekend and it would be a very strange coincidence if he did that as well. I would then pace threateningly, thinking about what made this thief, bold enough to cross into a stranger’s sandwich territory without knowing whatever wintertime diseases could be embedded in its golden-brown crust, commit such an act.
Now that my leftovers have been callously stolen for a third time, I feel a need to change tactics and instead treat the issue as if I were talking to one of the Wiggin Street Elementary second graders I volunteer with, who have a better understanding of personal property than the entire Kenyon student body.
Perhaps, “the person who still has a piece of my Southside bacon hanging out of her mouth must stay in time-out, but the rest of you may go have admirably innocent fun.”
That’s right, the rest of you are free to go make a Calvin and Hobbes “transmogrifier” out of that empty PBR box, or decorate a snowman outside the library with cigarette butts and Peirce forks. In the spirit of my mother’s beloved 1970s, follow the advice of “Lovin’ Spoonful” singer John Sebastian, who deemed “sun showers [as] legal grounds for cutting school.” Be an adult about moderating this need, but if the pull toward regressing back to childhood persists, don’t be afraid to give in if it means activating that imaginative, dusty corner of the brain that squeezes happiness out of even the most dismal situations, from an afternoon at a great aunt’s house to a grim Gambier winter. Go and play, Kenyon, but if you steal my food again, it’s no allowance for a month.
Annie Sheslow ’15 is an English major from Wilmington, Del. You can contact her at


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