Banman: When do boys stop being boys?
Kremmling, CO Colorado
As part of a recent vacation, I followed the advice given to me by my brother. Instead of stretching the break and arriving home late on the night of the last day of the vacation, my wife and I arrived home with a day to spare.
The primary advantage I had hoped for was that I wouldn’t have to rush back to work with too little sleep and too little patience for the routine of a normal workday. Sleeping in a bit was also an anticipated perk.
What happened is that I felt guilty almost from the moment I forced myself to sleep an extra half hour. When everybody else in the world is working, it just feels odd to saunter on down to the post office or putz around in the yard. I ended up spending most of the day in my home office, paying bills and watching a little television.
By the end of the day, I was feeling guilty enough about not getting anything accomplished that I felt compelled to give my wife an explanation. It was then that I recalled an incident from our vacation that involved my nearly 2-year-old grandson, Silas.
One morning, he had a meltdown of sorts and he was asked to spend a little time alone in reflective thought. For about an hour or two, we could hear him playing with his trucks and talking to himself. It turned out to be the perfect solution and the day certainly progressed better than it had started.
In fact, many comments were made about how mature the little guy was for being able to spend some time alone and get over his troubles. I decided to adopt that situation to my own and told my wife that I was simply “playing quietly in my room.” I was hoping she would think I was as cute as our grandson and that she would appreciate not having to entertain me or listen to my whining.
I’m not sure she saw the situation in the same light I did, but it did cause me to start thinking about actions that are adorable when done by a cute 2-year old boy but somehow become annoying when repeated by this 54-year old man.
For example, one night at my mom’s house our family was enjoying supper when Silas suddenly started to count the people around the table – loudly.
You would have thought Einstein himself had joined us to present a revised Theory of Relativity. The kid seems to be smart, but he did skip from four to 13. That didn’t seem to matter to the adoring masses. I can guarantee if I did the same thing at a crowded table, I wouldn’t be hearing talk about being some sort of prodigy.
When I burp or pass gas, I generally don’t hear statements like, “Oh, you must have had a good lunch” or “I bet you feel much better now.”
When you’re a little boy, everybody is ecstatic if you play outside all day, take a nice long nap, finish your carrots at dinner and get in a good bath complete with battleships and submarines. I would kill for a day like that now. If I ever got one, however, self-recrimination would have me doubled over with guilt by noon.
My question is, “At what age does cute become annoying?” The deeper issue is, “What have we done to ourselves?”
Some aspects of growing older are necessary. Behavior becomes boorish when we realize it is offensive and we choose to engage it anyway and thumb our nose at responsibility. The consequences we face also change, as we grow older.
Punching a bully in the nose in second grade earns you a trip to the principal’s office. The same action may result in jail time and a criminal record when the combatants are adults.
It is sad, however, when we lose the innocence of youth. When we lose the ability to revel in a new discovery or lose ourselves in thought or play, I believe we lose some of what makes life vibrant. What brings back that vitality is different for everybody.
For some, a few moments of reflection during the drive to work is enough. For others, we need to rediscover the ability to play again. We need to find again the ability to enjoy life and those with whom we share this journey. And sometimes, we just need to take the time to play quietly in our rooms.
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