Monday, March 1, 2010

All children, except one, grow up.

Today, Elijah fed the dog. Nothing unusual about that, except that today he had to first unpack the groceries, then find the dog food bag, then drag the back all the way to the pantry, then scoop the food and take it to the dog bowl, then invite the dog to the bowl, all of which he did. By himself. And then he fed the cat.

He is becoming more and more every day. More of everything that he is. He can serve his own food, he can sleep on a cot, he can walk on the street. He can break eggs, mix them and dump them on a pan. He can take clothes off and almost can put them on (there are too many holes in shirts to figure out how to use them!) It's all good news. Except that he is certainly, definitely, no-doubt-about-it not a baby any more.

My son is in a hurry to grow up.

And I wish he weren't in such a rush because I know how growing up goes. You get knocked, then you get tougher and more guarded, then you rinse and repeat until the desired level of jadedness.

(The dog bowl corner is a tough neighborhood I tell you. You can get pretty jaded pretty fast feeding the dog. And feeding the cat is a school of hard knocks as well.... not to mention the dangers of putting on shirts. Ok, so may be this part of growing up is not so bad. Obviously I am skipping ahead like 10 years, people. Stay with me. I tend to go fast when I get all sentimental).

So, where were we, oh right, growing up. I did it. It wasn't nice. Sometimes I wish I weren't so rough around the edges. I wish my son could keep this wide-eyed innocence, and his carefree laugh and his thrill with the world. But he has to grow up, and all of that has to go - or he won't make a very, um, functional adult. It's just a shame it has to go so fast.

You don't remember being little. You don't remember yourself as this wonder-filled, simpler and somehow better person. You don't regret the innocence lost, because you don't remember ever having it. But in your parents' minds, you still are that kid. They remember you before you started making snide remarks and playing power games, before you learned to be sarcastic and show off, before you started politicing, before you worried about how you looked. To your parents, as to me right now, that loss of innocence must have been somehow profoundly sad.

But yet, your parents know (they remember! they have proof!) that underneath all your layers of defense, somewhere still lives that awesome kid. Even once you grow up. And that, I guess, is what James M. Barrie must have meant when he said "all children, except one".

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