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What do you hope to be like when you’re my age?
I want to be a construction worker because I always play that with Anton. We are both construction workers. We just dig with shovels and we get water. Because we are good at it. We already once built a house in the sandpit with lots of water. We got so much water, until it was as full as it can get.
– Fiete, 4

What were you like when you were my age, and how do you think you’ve changed?
When I was your age, I also wanted to be construction worker, or a firefighter, or a dustman, for sure! But the first thing I can remember wanting to be was a comic artist. I always drew a lot. When I was a teenager, I realised that I probably wasn’t good enough. I ended up working in a creative field though and became a video artist.
– Kjell, 34

 
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What were you like when you were my age, and how do you think you’ve changed?
I was 17 in 1930, and the Second World War was a year and a half on. The whole outlook of the country changed, things were rationed or unavailable. There was no work and no dole at the time. Only two boys in my school went to secondary school as you had to pay for education.
There was a blackout at the time, we had to put black curtains on the windows. Everyone was scared of the Germans coming.
Travel changed, only the doctor and the priest had a motorcar because petrol was rationed. We used to walk 3 miles to see matches. I was mad for hurling, we used to hurl on the streets and were reported to the guards for it. I cycled to Croke Park for an All Ireland once from Laois. I left home at 10:40 at night and got in at about 03:30 in the morning, and came home on the bike.
– Christy, 92

How do you hope to be by the time you are my age?
In ways I’d like to be like Christy by the time I’m 92. The enthusiasm and happiness with his life that he has lived and continues to live is inspirational to me. I hope to be as enthusiastic and content as he is, and that I would also be in great health. I hope that I will have fulfilled all the dreams that I have now (I’m aware that sounds extremely cliché). I hope to be successful in my career and I hope that I’ll still have the spark and charisma that I attain now. I hope to be as wise as Christy, to have stories and experiences which I can pass on to the future generations when i’m 92.
– JulieAnne, 17

 
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What were you like when you were my age, and how do you think you’ve changed?
I was working in insurance which I hated. I had a different circle of friends and went out with them a lot, drank too much – all I really wanted to do was party and travel and was working just to get money. Since then, I’ve become much more independent and confident, I’m a youth worker and absolutely love my job. I have a small group of friends now that I really care about and my family is extremely important to me. At your age I had opinions but didn’t have the courage to voice them. I’m much more focused on my values now, I’m actively involved in the Repeal the 8th movement and am passionate about feminism.
– Sarah, 38

What do you hope to be like when you’re my age?
I’m at the point now where I know what I’m passionate about but I’m still kind of figuring out how to channel that. So, I hope that by 38 I’ll have found some sort of an outlet for that passion and be an influencer of change in the area of social justice. I hope in 16 years I’m still as curious as I am now and will continue to educate myself on things. I suppose being happy would be a big thing too and eventually, after travelling a bit, settling down somewhere! I also hope I’m still as close to my family as I am now. I feel as though I’m on the right track.
– Fiona, 22

 
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How do you hope to be by the time you are my age?
Teresita: Darren, what age do you think I am?
Darren (looking to his mother, Katie): Mammy tell me what age.
Katie: Go on, what age do you think Teresita is?
Darren: SEVEN
[all three laugh]
Teresita: Darren, what will you do when you’re my age?
Darren: I’ll be working. The right way. I’ll make houses. With armies and pirates and kings and … I’ll be a pilot. I will fly aeroplanes and helicopters. And I will take everybody away to Portugal, if they want. And I’ll be a dinosaur!
– Darren, 3 and a half

What were you like when you were my age, and how do you think you’ve changed?
Time, that thing that passively passes you by, statically configures your present, spans endlessly ahead of you, progressively precedes you, ever-consuming, ever-bestowing, invariably present, overtly overtaking, undoubtedly deserting, infinitely incessant, bountiful but unattainable, always going away yet somehow going nowhere.

Not sure I can quite remember my three year old self! Or that my three year old self even remembers myself. However, I’m guessing I was a younger version of myself! Less grown up. A little idealistic. But easily fascinated. Impressed by things such as someone changing your toy’s batteries. I think my first memory is my Dad taking my stabilizers off my bike. 3 years old, 3 foot nothing but feeling 10 foot tall. I took off on the bike at lightning speed, realising that somehow by pedalling I was miraculously remaining upright. Shortlived. I crashed to a halt at the bottom of a hill. At 28, my orientation hasn’t improved.
– Teresita, 28

 
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What do you hope to be like when you’re my age?
I hope to get a job in Veterinary, but I don’t know if I’d get the points for that. I’d like to have children, a girl and then a boy, I’d want to have children when I’m young and, you know, get rid of them as fast as possible.
I hope if I get married my spouse will be the one making all the money so I can stay at home, haha, but I tend to get bored so I probably wouldn’t.
I’d like to live in the city, suburbs, not central city, but maybe not in Ireland because i’m not convinced it’s the best place to raise a child, maybe in Germany. Germany has it together.
I hope to be healthy, to keep active by cycling, swimming, and to have a good social life.
It’s interesting to think who you still will be friends with in the next 40 years.
– Roisín, 15

What were you like when you were my age, and how do you think you’ve changed?
When I was 15, I was quiet, but friendly. I liked company. I liked animals. I got involved at sports in school but I wasn’t particularly good at any of them. I liked to read books. And I always wanted to be a nurse.
I liked school, but missed the farm and missed my home, my family and the freedom of being at home, because school was very restricted, everything was on a timetable, but on the other hand I found friends there that have become friends for life, so that was a huge bonus.
It was normal having a big family, but having six brothers was a big imbalance. I was surrounded by boys, and boys have tempers and they’d shout and hit each other, and I found that hard, I was a softy and a very sensitive child. I was always very sensitive. I just wanted more sisters and less brothers.
– Louise, 51

 
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How do you hope to be by the time you are my age?
Nina: I will be taking photographs with a heavy camera like this one.
Olga: Anything else?
Nina: I will eat. And wear lipstick.
– Nina, 4

What were you like when you were my age, and how do you think you’ve changed?
I used to memorise a lot of fairy tales, poems and songs and made everyone who came to our house listen to them – I loved performing, unlike you. But other than that I was very much like you: I liked helping to cook, played with crayons and foods as if they were characters, kicked a ball, loved a beach. Reading and making up stories are still my favourite things.
– Olga, 37

 
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What were you like when you were my age, and how do you think you’ve changed?
Bridget: I was married. I had two or three children; I was a busy housewife; and I had a business to run.
Bridget: How much have I changed Alan?
Alan (Bridget’s youngest son): I didn’t know you when you were 23 now Bridget, haha.
Bridget: Well you knew me since I was 37! [giggles]
Bridget: I don’t think I’ve changed a whole lot really, have I? Okay, I’ve got older but other than that.
– Bridget, 87

What do you hope to be like when you’re my age?
I want the same clichés that everyone wants: a loving family, to be healthy, to be happy. I want to have had experiences, have travelled the world. I want to be telling embellished tales to my grandchildren about my travels when I am 87!
– Elaine, 23

 

Illustration: Sarah Moloney