“I’m going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”
I recently finished reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane, a creepy-sad-wonderful book by Neil Gaiman. There’s quite a bit to love about this book: the story of childhood, of being an adult looking back, the scary villains, the superbly flawed (and therefore even more loveable) main character. But this was the quote that struck me hard in the gut, that stayed in my head. It comes about two thirds of the way through the book, when the boy doesn’t believe they can defeat the monster, the adult, who threatens him, because nothing scares an adult. This the response he gets from Lettie, the ageless 11-year-old, lets him in on the secret that there aren’t really any grown-ups, just people who are good at putting on an act and tricking others into believing that they know what’s going on. It’s something that sounds, feels, so very true, and Gaiman conveys it so succinctly, in the most perfect way.