Saturday, September 24, 2005

Bubble Gum Dreams

After 4 glasses of red wine, a fabulous gourmet dinner and several loud let-it-all-out laughs, it is time to go to bed. I, of course, can't sleep and so I'm sitting here in my 12 year old cousins room, trying to stop the spins and thinking about various things in my life.

My cousin is a boy, 12, like I mentioned, and sort of shy. His room is immaculate. I don't know if it's clean and organized because they knew we were coming or not, but I can say that I honestly don't think that's the case. It's a deep powdery blue with red tab top curtains, large oak colored furniture and a silver TV. He has a new age type CD player, also silver and an electric guitar, red, in the corner. Over his bed is a NY Yankees pennant. (I'm in NY aferall-though his brother, my favorite boy cousin, is a Sox fan)

(I did just look down on the floor after that last paragraph to think and saw a pair of boxers on the floor. That's a little more normal)

What I'm finding is that both this boy and his room seem to be extraordinarily sweet and innocent. Everything is in order. Even his towel is hung on the door on a specific hook. It's amazing how orderly this room is. My favorite thing about this room though, is in the corner of his desk, almost so you can't see it is a picture of himself when he was little-maybe 5 or so, all scrunched up in a ball sleeping on a sidewalk or something-like he was waiting for a parade and couldn't wait. Right next to it is a picture of his mom and dad smiling and laughing with their faces close-the pose couples often choose when asked to take a picture.

It's very refreshing to me to see these things in a 12 year old boys room.

He also has gum balls and index cards with "Becoming a state in the United States" written in little boy writing on them and a box of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans. He apparently likes dogs and cars (something I didn't know) because he has some chachkas on the top shelf of his desk. My foot just touched a well-loved 5lb weight resting peacefully under his desk, and to my sheer delight, there are still stuffed animals hiding in the secret recesses of his room.

When will this end? When will this innocence that he still possesses be snatched away by people who want him to forget the taste of jelly beans and bubble gum? When will his 5lb weight be not enough and when will someone offer him drugs to enhance his performance? When will his best stuffed animal find itself stuffed into a box and stored away in the attic, stifled by the heat and the knowledge that youth has been stolen from his owner?

I hope the answer is never. I hope that he learns that being a grown up doesn't mean forgetting the taste of jelly beans or the feeling you get when you hug your best stuffed animal. I hope he remembers that although it takes time, lifting a weight is better than lifting a pill and that being able to blow the biggest bubble will still be cool to the right people.

I hope he remembers to laugh, and hope he can hold onto the curiosity in his heart, the spark of youth and adventure in his eyes.

I hope he remembers this room, and when life starts to hand him adulthood, he remembers that it doesn't mean he has to forget his youth.


Hamel said...

Here's hoping he remembers the innocence of childhood as he grows older. This is so reminescent of the end of Alices' Adventures in Wonderland.

You're the best, Mags.

Mags said...

Thanks Hamel!

You're not so bad yurself!

One who listens said...

I still have my black and white panda teddy from when I was born.

Some people say I'll never grow up. I say why would you want to?

Mags said...

I, too, still have a few things from my childhood hiding around here. But what's more fun is that I have some that I've aquired in adulthood.

Why grow up completely? And why does growing up mean you can't still like a silly bean bag elephant?


megan said...

Ask any parent about watching their kids go from young and innocent and childlike to grown up and I think most will agree that "It ain't that bad". I struggle with emotion every time my kids take one step farther from childhood into adulthood, but the emotions are bittersweet. Sure, you can't help but cry when you see their favorite stuffed animals bagged up for donation, or when you come across their tiny baby clothes or nursery school class photos or dried up Prom bouquets. But you have just as many tears of joy when you see what wonderful young adults they are turning into. The pride you feel when your child crosses the graduation stage is worth the pain of knowing they are growing up. You laugh to keep from crying when you hear them yell "I did it" while waving their drivers license with what looks like a mug shot on it. It's not even that bad when you realize they are getting the same safe, warm hugs from boyfriends or girlfriends instead of that favorite stuffed animal. And luckily for me, my kids still love jelly beans.