This afternoon I choked on a little water while I was driving. I told Handsome that I was okay, but my voice cracked. Handsome said it sounded like I was going through puberty again.
"God, I hope not," I said. "I had a hard enough trouble the first time."
"Why?" He looked at me quizically. "What was so hard about puberty? Did something go wrong?"
I thought about if for a minute (always a bad sign if you are in a hurry) and began to talk.
"You don't know it yet, you're too young, but when you're old enough you'll find that for your whole life, no matter what age you are, you'll be convinced that you are at the toughest age. You'll have the feeling that you either want to be younger or older than you are because that age seems to have it made to you."
I took a deep breath (another bad sign if you were hoping for a quick answer).
"When you were little, like 5 or 6, you were wishing you were older because the bigger kids had better stuff to climb on at the park, and could stay up later, stuff like that. Now you are older and bigger, and you can stay up later and climb on whatever you want. But you have school now, and homework, and you still have to rely on me and Mom to get you places and make play dates for you. You wish you were older so you could go more places and do more things. I've already heard you wishing you had your license, and you're just nine.
When you're older, like 11 or 12, you'll be wishing you were a teenager because they seem so cool and together. They have after-school specials that make it seem like they know it all and can handle anything. Then you become a teen-ager and find out it's not an instant pass into coolness, and you still don't know what's going on half the time, still have to listen to your parents, still have to go to them, for rides and stuff.
Somewhere in there, it's different for everyone, but somewhere in there puberty hits you like a hairy smelly bomb. You grow and change so fast you can't even keep up with yourself on the outside, while on the inside it's a little like someone just tipped and shook your own internal Etch-A-Sketch. Whatever you started out with is now a mess.
High-school looks like the answer to you, like once you get to High-school everything will just fall into place. Then you get there and walk around for four years saying 'Oh my God, this sucks!' People treat you alternately like an adult or a child, and you're never sure which it's going to be. No one gives you a handbook to getting through high-school, but you'll be wishing that they did. Somewhere in there you get to drive, but that's the high-point. The personal stuff with school and your classmates just feels like enormous pressure all the time, but driving you can master! Except that you won't have your own car. Or, if you do, it's not the car you always pictured yourself driving. Parents are telling you what to do, teachers and coaches are telling you what to do, and by the end of high-school you're starting to feel like you can handle stuff on your own, if only people would let you. Either a job or college starts looking really good to you, where you can have more freedom and start taking charge of yourself.
Let's say you go the college route. You get there and get oriented and then spend years walking around saying 'Oh my God, this sucks!' It's a lot like high-school only now you're paying to be there! That freedom you were hoping for seems to have translated into no one making sure you go to class, no one making you study and do your homework and write your papers; you have to do it all on your own, and it seems a little harder than you thought. The pressure seems the same as high-school, but there are fewer rules, a little less structure and you're just wishing it could be over and you could start making some serious money. You wish it could be over so you can get a job, start making your own money, you own rules.
So you skipped college, or it's all over and you have your job. Now you're responsible for yourself, or if you get married, your family. Your boss is telling you what to do, the people you owe money to, your landlord, the bank, credit card companies, medical collectors, they're all still telling you what to do.You work all day to survive, and at the end of the day you wind up thinking 'Man, I wish I was still a little kid. No work, no school, someone else responsible for taking care of me ... man, they have it made!' "
I stopped and looked at Handsome, sitting in the passenger's seat next to me, just staring at me.
"Sorry," I said. "That was a little dark, huh? Don't worry, there's some good stuff too ..."
"No Dad," he said, turning to face front again. "I never wanted to be a grown-up. I don't want to have to go to work or any of that stuff. I like where I am right now."
"Oh," I said. "Um ... never mind all that stuff then. Sorry."
Whoops! He may never ask me a question again!
Talk to you later!