UhOh, here comes the future
Did you know kids grow up? Yeah, as a father when I found out my son and daughter won’t magically freeze their growth when they hit five, it was quite a shock. My sweet (and sassy), innocent (but sometimes deviant), playful (but grumpy) kids will turn into sassy, deviant, and grumpy teenagers and there’s nothing I can do about it!
I’m not dreading the change quite as much as the way it sounds. That last sentence was just for literary effect–using the previously parenthetical phrases for the following sentence–come on, that’s tight. But back to the (im)maturation of my kids. I think it will be fun in many ways, and difficult in others, kind of like it is right now. The reason I’m writing about this when my kids are not even four is three boys I have never seen at our community center. Don’t worry, I’ll explain this insane cliffhanger.
I try to go workout on the weekdays, and lately as I’m de-stinking myself in the locker room there have consistently been three boys who are hanging out and speaking extremely loudly on the other side of the lockers. I think they’re there to swim, but as I’ve never made ocular contact I can’t verify that. Given the high pitch of their voices and their references to school I assume they are somewhere between 11 and 13.
Their conversations each day are, well, interesting. Especially in light of the fact that my kids will someday be between 11 and 13. A couple days ago they were using their outside voices to play the exhilirating game “who would you kill, who would you marry, who would you do.” The choices were Chris (one of the three boys), Beyonce, and someone else I hadn’t heard of (that probably shows my age). When they launched into this exercise in strategy I thought about saying something to them. My choices were the patronizing “Hey, if you guys are going to display your immaturity you might want to keep it down a bit,” the parental “Do you really think that’s appropriate?” and the tattletale “What would your parents think?”
As I was weighing my sweet options a disturbing thought hit me, “that’s going to be my kids someday!” This triggered a ten minute discussion between myself about how to handle the changes my kids will go through. My initial horror at the thought of my kids having similar conversations to the “lockeroom three” slowly turned into reflection.
I had conversations and thoughts as bad and worse than my invisible reverse mentors. I probably played games at least as horrifying as their creation. You know you did too. I’m sure there are exceptions, but the unbridled hormonal exploration of early adolescence fueled by movies, magazines, and ill-informed peers leads most young adults (by that I mean teenagers, not those in their early twenties, though that’s where our culture is headed) down some interesting if morally-questionable paths. How is it that inappropriate adolescents turn into horrified parents?
I know my kids aren’t going to tell me everything, that’s life. But I hope I can react to them in a way that helps them through some tricky times rather than forcing them to turn solely to their peers to figure out sexuality, interpersonal interaction, and other stuff about life. I mean, how helpful is it to have three kids/young adults who probably don’t really know what it means to “do” somebody figuring out who they’d do?
All I know is I’m glad I have another 12 years, I mean 10, wait, it’s 2009, I mean 6 years to prepare.