When I was a little older than my kids now are, I loved trying to balance myself on the bricks that bordered the lawn and the flower beds. When I first started, I could barely go three bricks before losing my balance, but with practice, I learnt to walk the entire length of the driveway. It was something I never tired of in the five years that we lived in that house.
So when I encountered a similar brick border a few weeks back, I couldn’t resist having a go at it. The years have obviously given me a better sense of balance – after a few tries, I could do the entire length if I concentrated sufficiently on it.
“Gosh, sometimes you can be so childish”, someone exclaimed when it attempted it yet again.
“So what?”, I shot back. “If growing up means I have to give up these small pleasures, I’d rather remain a child forever.”
The word, however, continued to rankle. ‘Childish’ came loaded with so many negative connotations, I was not sure I wanted it describing something that had given me so much pleasure when I was a kid, and which continued to do so. And yet, it was the right word, wasn’t it?
Then I got it. Childish was not at the right word at all. Childish meant immature, juvenile. The word I was looking for was ‘Childlike’ – like a child .
Childlike harped back to simple, uncomplicated, not jaded – the words that perfectly expressed the glee I felt while balancing on those bricks.
When two words that sound so similar, and which are often (erroneously) used interchangeably, convey such different meanings, is it any wonder that adjectives are so popular?