Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Beauty of Age

I remember being a child and wishing for nothing more than to be grown up. I am sure we all did this when we were younger, and now wish we could take it back. Maybe spend a little more time being a kid.

I wanted to drive so badly. I remember just aching at fourteen to get behind the wheel of a car. If I was lucky, on the trip back from Grandmother’s house, my mom would let me drive some… what a feeling. Driving 25 mph on a 55 mph highway… trying my damnedest to keep from swerving all over the place; that woman had nerves of steel.

My son talks about driving now, he’s eight. Like that is EVER going to happen. I am never letting that kid have the wheel of my car, and just sit in the passenger seat and watch. That is crazy…

He wants to grow up and drive. He’s even talking about getting married. He’s EIGHT!!! What are they teaching these kids in school? He’s a super smart kid, but we have the same dumb conversations I had with my mother…”Why can’t I just be grown up now?”

“Gabe, it’s not that great being a grown up,” I have to say.

“You get to drive and stay up late… you even get to eat ice cream for breakfast.” He is upset with me because I do occasionally eat ice cream for breakfast. That is one of the many perks of this grown up bit that I am happy to say I actually dig.

“Well, it’s not all that great. Besides you spend your whole life wishing for more. I wished I was sixteen too, so I could drive. Then I wished I was eighteen so I could smoke…”

“But you don’t smoke…” he interrupts.

“I know I don’t smoke… but I could if I wanted to, and that is the beauty of it.”

“I still don’t get it.”

“Well you are eight, y’know? After eighteen you have twenty-one. Oh man twenty-one… good times. You can drink..”

“I can drink…” he says.

“No… alcohol,” he is looking at me very puzzled, “Like beer…”

“That’s a drug! Why would you want to drink that?”

“Man… I don’t know why you would want to; you just do. ANYway, at twenty-five your insurance drops, and I think you can rent a car.”

“Insurance? What is that?” I really didn’t think I was going to have to go into premiums and plan choices with my son, but you’d be amazed at the questions he asks, and if I can’t answer them… I fake it. Surely he will forget before he hits therapy in a few years, right? Skip ahead several minutes later, “Well…”

“After that it’s pretty much down hill… I think maybe all you have to look forward to after that is AARP.”

“What’s that?” again with the questions. Damn it, kid… can you give me a moment of peace so I can think clearly for a moment? Can you stop talking long enough for me to remember why I wanted kids in the first place? Yeah I can’t wait till you’re grown up too… so you will know everything; or at least THINK you do.

“Well,” I look into his eyes and see that unconditional love he has for me. I see the spark… curiosity that makes up his brilliant mind. For a moment I grasp a hold of that childhood that quickly raced past me, and I remember exactly how he feels… that ache to be like my parents, because they were my world; I am his world. I smile and feel the spirit of my youth dancing in my head… answering the best I can, “you get free coffee at the gas station when you fill up…”

“But you don’t drink coffee,” he interrupts.

“I know I don’t drink coffee… but I could if I wanted to.”


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