“Oh how I wish I could go back to being fifteen again”, lamented my best friend Aro to the world at large.

Lolling near the window on a large couch, with a book in one hand and an iced drink in the other, I hardly heard a word until she repeated it again, with a glare at me. Clearly, I was expected to respond.

I sighed and put my book down.

“Why on earth would anyone in their right minds wish to return to their youth?” I demanded.

She shrugged carelessly. It would be charming, she said, to relive her girlhood. All the wonderful ‘firsts’, all the time in the world (or so one thought), the lack of responsibility, the ability to think only of oneself, the dreams one had, and so on. Aro was well away until I held up an arresting hand.

“Enough”, I said firmly.

At the age of thirty five, I cannot think of anything more alarming or more unnecessary than a return to girlhood. Charming? More like a punishment, really. All the things one didn’t know, and the disillusionment of knowing! All the pain of those ‘firsts’, the way one felt things so keenly! The first time one’s heart got broken, or the first loss of someone whom one loved, or the first time one ‘sucks it up and gets on with it’, or the first time that one broke down in public during a particularly difficult time, or the first time one said ‘It isn’t fair’, and realised that nobody cared. Oh yes, all those firsts.

I consider every year since then a year well won, and all the lessons learned since my girlhood lessons well and truly dinned into me until there is no question of not parroting my lines when I am quizzed. Some lessons, of course, were harder learned, and so the teaching of them was harder. Girls are, at best, silly creatures. No sillier than boys, of course, but still silly. It is astonishing to me that the same girl at fifteen – gawky, awkward, rebellious, idealistic, silly, and romantic enough to be attracted to teenage boys – should, in ten years or so, become a suave, educated, refined mature woman who seeks adult companionship and love from mature men. Ten years of pain, of toil, of learning, of not learning and being taught again, of loss, of broken hearts and shattered dreams, of mistakes made, and of wrong roads taken. Of time _lost_.

A return to girlhood? No, thanks.