Grow Up (actually, not yet!)


Be careful what you wish for. How many times has that proved true? Aesop really knew his stuff.  Often, when I see my kids’ playing morph into arguing, I wish they would just grow up already. I mean, as 12 and 10 year olds, they know right from wrong.  Right? Wrong.  I have what I suppose is a delusional dream that in the middle of a fracas (you love that word, admit it), they’ll put down their arms, hear my guiding voice in their heads, and take one of several mature roads to end the conflict: shake hands and agree to disagree, walk away if they just can’t bear the sight of the other one’s face, or generously let that other one have his way (this time).  I said I was delusional.  How many adults wouldn’t handle a wiffle ball altercation this well?  

Just when I wish they would be wise beyond their years – or anywhere close to their years – I’ll see them do something so ridiculously too old for them that I pine for the days when they couldn’t prevent saliva from dripping down their necks. While G’s kids can gather happily around a showing of Tangled or The Little Mermaid, laughing and singing the soundtrack (with some occasional crying, courtesy of Red), I just snagged Blue watching Animal House, which he told me he’s seen before. Even Dimples, whose whiny- baby shtick can rival any toddler, is generally interested in movies that start at PG-13.

He’s a self-declared boob man, having taught one of his friends and baseball teammates what a rack is. How did this happen? Part of it, I know, is my fault. Years ago, I let them watch The Who’s rock opera Tommy, but I blocked out the nasty parts. I wanted them to hear the timeless voice of Tina Turner’s Acid Queen and watch Eric Clapton jam as he walked down the aisle of a church. This was music…it was history…I wanted it in their veins before the mind-numbing, never-varying Top 40 took hold and kidnapped their impressionable music tastes. Usher-BoB-Bruno Mars-Nicki Minaj…do you ever see yourself risking your kids seeing inappropriate footage of a deaf, dumb and blind summer pinball camp so they can hear Ke$ha’s musical genius?

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I have, I fear, created a monster…two, in fact. I realize my boys also spend a lot of time with their older cousins, which I’m assuming is where Dimples picked up his weakness for breasts, so maybe it’s not completely my doing. Still, when I see them try to be old so soon, I want it to stop. I want to fly around the Earth like Superman to rewind time. I miss the way they’d get happy and giddy about the smallest thing. Blue walks around relatively expressionless, tired much of the time, sometimes sullen. Every now and then, G or I will hit a nerve with something we say (let’s make homemade pizza) or do (riding Expedition Everest 13 times), and the little boy deep inside him emerges with an endearingly goofy wide smile…eyes that twinkle, teeth you can see. It’s the best.

In fact, I just saw this side of him at a school poetry event. He asked me to say hello to his sixth grade Language Arts teacher, and when we shook hands and made small talk about poetry and Blue making class “interesting” (I’m sure that’s just what he meant), I looked over at Blue and he had busted out that charming, disarming grin. It’s like when you see your colicky baby sound asleep - finally - and you wonder to whom you can pay ridiculous sums of money to have that exactly when you need it. They’re all great when they giggle…Red, Blue, Lashes, Curls and Dimples all occasionally let the goofy out. I guess the moral (Aesop, are you listening?) is act older than you are when you are acting out…otherwise, bring on the silly.

Liz Kingsley lives in Westfield with her girlfriend and their five children. During the day, she teaches Special Education and Basic Skills at a local elementary school, writes poetry and columns about her family, and directs The Writers Studio. At night, she collapses from exhaustion.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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