Monday, July 23, 2012

Day #23: Kid Problems

Today's topic is:  "What is the hardest part about being a kid?"

Some people might say "School!" but, clearly, I didn't imbibe that message and voluntarily stayed in school for 30 years.  They might say "Eating your vegetables!" but my mom is a good cook and I didn't mind them.  Perhaps "Sharing with your siblings" but, honestly, it wasn't an issue.  I had my own room, and later, my own car.  I didn't suffer for my own stuff.

I think the hardest part for me is the same as it for Jarrah.  (So why do I forget to be compassionate about it now?)  And that's the lack of CONTROL.  You want to do things now or later or your own way, and someone is there to tell you it's not gonna happen.  It's too dangerous, too late, too expensive, too wasteful, too messy, too close to dinner...whatever.  IT'S NOT UP TO YOU.  When I used to think about being a grown-up, I imagined a magical world where I got to do whatever I wanted.  Readers, that wasn't too far from the truth.

Jarrah gets the most frustrated when we interrupt her playing or movies or snacks with commands about stuff she definitely doesn't want to do, like get ready for school, go to bed, pick up her toys.  Sometimes she flies into an insta-tantrum at these times.  I can be surprised at these sudden transformations, but I also remember that the same sorts of transitions--which at the time seemed arbitrary--used to enrage me, too.

Some of my strongest memories of childhood were being suspended in the amber of someone else's needs, schedules, desires, and feeling like my head was going to explode with the frustration of it.  All those hours spent sitting on curbs alone because my mother was dealing with some other kid and couldn't pick me up right away, those hundreds of trips to Gelson's with my new license (where I became known to every single checker) for what seemed like a teaspoon of flour when I wanted to be out with friends, the stupefyingly long grocery trips when she stocked up for a week of meals for six people and I resorted to stealing candy and hiding it in my underwear just to pass the time.

I remember the countless day trips with my dad that were interrupted by his sudden conviction that we should sweep the garage first, the times I sat at the kitchen table after everyone had left because I wouldn't finish my milk, the many occasions I thought I might die from grief when my friends were all at Knotts Berry Farm without me because I was grounded for something or other.  I distinctly remember losing a boy whom I worshipped, Mark, at 15 because I didn't drive and couldn't get a ride to the Friday night post-temple events where he was becoming distracted by another girl, Tracy.  For a while, he kept calling me, and he just talked and talked of her in raptures.  I remember being absolutely certain that if I could just get myself physically into his field of vision on those nights, Tracy would be invisible.  But alas, I was at home, wheel-less, and he was falling for Tracy unimpeded.

Sigh.  I could really go on forever.  But, in a certain way, these kinds of memories are what makes adulthood all the sweeter.  You can't really do what you want--I can't fly to Greece today, or become a ballerina tomorrow--but I can decide what I want to do this afternoon and drive myself there, and call anyone I want to see, and if I don't feel like spending eons in the grocery store, there's always take-out.

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