Friday, June 25, 2021

Third Childhood

Rummy 500, jigsaw puzzle, paddleball, biking to ice cream, Go-Car, Mechanical Museum games, composing music for four rubber pigs, two chickens and a duck, working at the Food Bank, Nine to Five and Sea Biscuit videos at home with popcorn, In the Heights  at the movie theater, baking cookies, making buckwheat pancakes, putting make-up on me and a wig, two playgrounds, walk on the beach, parallel silent reading, hugs, snuggles, much laughter and occasional eye rolls, deep discussions— that’s been my week. As you might guess, my granddaughter is visiting. 

 

I loved Peter Pan growing up and watching my father pay bills did not entice me to aspire to adulthood. And so I fell into a job where I played clapping games with kids, sang songs like “Boom Boom! Ain’t It Great to Be Crazy!,” danced to all sorts of music, made all sorts of music and generally had a rollicking good time—and got paid for it! And then when I taught adults, I created an instant community of spirited children inside of adult bodies that were so starved to play again! And I got paid for that! 

 

I also did end up paying bills and voting and being stern with children when they needed it 

and being serious about the great matters of life and death when the occasion called for it. I learned the difference between “childish” and “childlike” and understood that life is too serious to not play your way through it, too much fun not to be taken seriously. 

 

And so Peter Pan didn’t get it all right— too much denial of the necessary evolution to a responsible adulthood. But he was on the right track. 

 

I won't grow up (I won't grow up), 
I don't wanna go to school (I don't wanna go to school)
Just to learn to be a parrot (Just to learn to be a parrot)
And recite a silly rule (And recite a silly rule)

If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree
I'll never grow up never grow up, never grow up, never grow up
Not me! (Not I!) Not me! (Not me!)

 

I won't grow up, I don't wanna wear a tie
And a serious expression, In the middle of July
And if it means I must prepare ,to shoulder burdens with a worried air
I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up, so there!

 

So I did decide to go to school and teach there for 45 years, but was a place where we taught the kids to sing their own song instead of parroting others, to understand when rules here important and when they weren’t and when they can be broken and why all of the above. I dressed casually (no tie) and with summers to travel and teach and vacation on the shores of Lake Michigan, I never wore an unnecessarily serious expression in July— or any other month! 

 

 And how did adulthood go for you? If you need help, I suggest consulting the nearest kid.

 

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