21… But considering 12

Happy Birthday to me!!

Birthday celebrations have finally all wrapped up, and I am officially legal!

I have celebrated with my closest friends at a beautiful restaurant, with a classy martini at a fancy restaurant with my love, with a margarita on the San Antonio Riverwalk, and with another margarita at our favorite Mexican food restaurant in the entire world with my closest family. All of these events on separate days, of course!

I have had a fabulous time celebrating this big milestone, and I am so thankful for all the loving smiles and wishes I received.

In the back of my head, though, was a distinct longing for earlier times. I felt a pretty healthy dose of nostalgia for so many things from my childhood, and this post is a direct result.

This is a list of things that were AWESOME about our childhood, and that I personally wish had grown up with us. Things that I wish still existed for us in grown-up form.

Sympathize and commiserate with me as I mourn the loss of the good ole’ days.

As I turn 21, consider the most awesome things about being 12! 

  • Scholastic Book Fairs

Yes, I have always been a reader. I am a lifetime lover of books and literature of all types. 
However, as much as I loved school back then, there was no school day I looked forward to more than the Scholastic Book Fair day… or even the day we were due to receive the catalog! We CANNOT forget
about those catalogs. Those flimsy newspaper-style golden gems were packed with treasure. 
I recently saw a book fair set up in my church’s preschool, and was immediately taken back to the excitement of the entire affair. How fantastic it is to order and receive books in your hands every couple of months! There is no greater joy!
I told Oren that I wish we still had Scholastic Book Fairs, and he lovingly replied: “We still do, Mandi. It’s called Barnes and Noble…” Needless to say, I did not share his sentiment.

  • American Girl Magazine

What a beautiful publication for young girls everywhere! The other day, I sat in my friend Allee’s living room and perused the American Girl issue that had come that morning for her 11-yr-old sister. That magazine just makes people happy! Plain and simple, we were reading such QUALITY material.
Questioning my judgement? Think about it. Where else can young girls read about life skills, emotional growth, artistic creativity, and physical and mental health, in a format so colorful and engaging that they just eat it up? Besides, this is also an important venue for young girls to create and submit their own ideas, artwork, stories, and crafts. 
Today, I long for a grown-up girl version of American Girl. I’m sorry, but Cosmo and Seventeen just don’t cut it for me. Where is OUR wholesome and creatively addictive monthly publication??

  • Massive sleepovers

Those were the days…. or rather, the nights! When 15 of your closest friends got together for a night of caffeine, sugar, Disney movies, laughter, and the occasional fighting and crying spell. 
Remember the HUGE games of sardines, hide-and-go-seek, and neighborhood-wide scavenger hunts in the dark? Remember those wonderful mothers that provided a smorgasbord of delicious snacks to fuel late-night cravings during intense games of truth-or-dare? 
[Side note: if you’d like to know about the most commonly-asked-for dare that I completed time and time again… that’s a story for another time!] 
The best thing about these events was their very frequent occurrence. Each of your friends of COURSE has a birthday, and you could assume there would be yet another sleepover with yet again the same group! This meant that being 12, you basically experienced one very long sleepover that lasted through the entire school year. SCORE.

  • Trips to theme parks

When you’re not spending your weekend at somebody’s sleepover, you can bet you’ll be attending a party at a local theme park! 
A myriad of reasons abound for hitting up the local Six Flags or water park: church trip, band trip, choir trip, GT trip, grade-wide field trip…. the list goes on and on. As us kids grew old enough (read: tall enough) to participate in such revelry, teachers and mentors alike dumped us all off for a day of low-maintenance fun. 
The best part for us: rollercoasters were still new, exciting novelties. We were still entranced by the dare to lift our hands off of the restraint bar. We hadn’t yet discovered that theme parks were usually hot (in Texas), dirty, crowded, and dreadfully expensive. 
Theme parks were our heaven!

  • Kids’ Menu

Does this really require explanation? Most things (including the kids’ menu) state that annoying maxim “age 12 and under.” If you’re still 12, you can still order small, cheap dinners. And, better yet, you can still color with crayons on the puzzles side of the kids’ menu.
You can’t tell me you didn’t still ask for a kids’ menu (even after you were too old) just so you could color. Yeah, I know. I did it too. Wasn’t it great when we weren’t yet impostors? 
Where is the entertaining puzzle sheet for 21 year old girls? And where are the accompanying purple crayons??

  • Imagination

Most of all, I mourn the loss of my imagination. 
At age 12, we still occasionally played with stuffed animals and our old dolls. We still imagined epic battles with our figurines and we still remembered our sensational adventures of the past. Our old toys were just becoming “old,” but hadn’t yet lost their dire importance. We still clung fiercely to our childhood. We hadn’t yet decided that we had “grown up.”
I love observing my choir kids playing freely before rehearsal, because I love how readily they create ideas out of nowhere. I love watching them assign roles to each other– they can create a new world in under three minutes. 
Don’t you wish you were still there? Still able to occupy yourself for hours with only a friend and a couple stuffed animals for entertainment? I know I do. Those were the days.
So, I am now a legal adult. I am now able to order alcohol, vote, buy a lottery ticket, etc. etc. etc. Yet, I hold tightly to my memories of my childhood, and the fantastic life we all led back then. 
Take a moment with me and remember just a couple things that bring you joy from your time as a child. Take a moment with me, and smile!

“Everything is ceremony in the wild garden of childhood.” ― Pablo Neruda



  1. Absolutely loved this post! Creative idea on the palindrome with “12” and “21.” All of these things I so desperately miss as well! (Particularly the Book Fair and American Girl Magazine). :-)

  2. I loved this post Mandi!!! I adored American Girl Magazine, and I remember doing crafts out of the summer issues with you! The greatest thing I mourn would also be the loss of imagination. I do try to feed my creative side as often as I can, but it isn’t the same.

    The quote you included at the end made me smile. It was perfect!

    Oh, and one last thing. I love it that your english major roommate commented on your palindrome. ;) That was very creative. :)

  3. Emily: Thanks for the compliments! I had a feeling I would be reaching you when I mentioned book fairs :)

    Bethany: We sure did have some fantastic times with our imaginations didn’t we? And thanks for liking my quote! I thought it was fantastic too!

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