Thursday, July 19, 2007

On Turning 10



My son Sam just turned 10 years old. I like it for many reasons. But it is weird for many reasons too. I don't care about how old it makes me seem. I embrace aging because getting older gives me an excuse to be fatter and not very cute. Did I just admit a bias about old people? Well, they are fat and not very cute. What do you expect? They're old.

What is strange is that you can totally remember being 10. You're like a real person. You have private jokes and favorite things. Parents are peripheral people; the 10 year old is the main character. My friends' parents were always, in my mind, 2-dimensional characters that had little relevance to me outside of permission-granting and ride-giving. For example, my best friend in 2nd grade was Sonja Jensen. All I knew about her parents was that her mom liked European things and her dad wrote the music to Windwalker. I remember learning the word "composer" but I don't remember ever knowing Sonja's mom's name.

My friend Rachel's parents seemed like cartoon characters to me then: her dad in his garments in the middle of a sleepover with a little dialog bubble over his head saying "You kids get to BED!!!" and smoke coming out of his ears. Seriously, that's how I picture him. It has only been recently that I have started to think of Rachel's parents as real people. I don't mind but it is kind of freaky that I won't seem like a real person to my kids' friends. How best to make the most of this, I wonder--perhaps by wearing costumes.

The good thing about my 10 year old is that he still thinks Christian and I are cool. And we are--because he likes what we like. But it won't be long before what we like is just lame. The way I see it, you are totally into your family in grade school, then you get interested in other people's families in high school. In college you are into your family again and then you get married and it just depends on whether your in-laws are insufferable. If they are, you cling to your family again just like you did in grade school. If they aren't, you focus on your own new family and have your own kids and then they turn 10 and start thinking of you as a cartoon character.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately as I've been watching Friday Night Lights because of the Jolly Porter's recommendation. This show is really, really good. When I watch it I think about how good it is and I am taken aback because I think teenagers probably think it is really, really good too. They probably think Matt Saracen or--possibly--Lyla Garrity is the main character but for me it's all about Eric and Tami Taylor and how they handle tough parenting sitches with basically all of the teenagers in the county. It occurs to me to ask, did old people used to watch The Cosby Show for parenting and keep-the-marriage-fresh-through-suggestive-foot-massage tips from the Huxtables and not to see what Denise/Rudy was wearing? Lots of questions. Lots of questions. Of only one thing am I certain--No one cared about what Vanessa was wearing. And Sam is still too young to watch Friday Night Lights. But he really likes The Office.


10 comments:

  1. I feel like you just helped me realized something about myself: now, whenever I catch pieces of The Cosby Show, I am completely watching how Cliff and Claire handle the parenting sitches. Most of the time, they do something different than what I would do, and that must be why now I can't sit through a whole episode, whereas when I was young and checking in to see their cool wardrobe, it was my total favorite show, and I mourned it going off the air, in 1992, I do believe.
    I also watch other shows to gauge parenting styles. Caillou: his parents are beyond patient and they let him get away with too much whining.

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  2. Caillou makes me sick--especially his clothes. Mandarin collar?

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  3. Thank you! I can't stand Caillou, but I'm always afraid to say that bc I think he has lukemia or something. Whiny--and what's with the day care? Of course his parents are patient with him--they see him 2 hours a day! The other 22 hours are spent with Grandpa, etc. Ok, I really did enjoy this post, and I still watch Cosby show to see what Rudy and Venessa are wearing. I like your perpective on this matter--I need to remember it when my boy hits the age where he starts to annoy and be smelly.

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  4. Like you I understand that my children will think I am a dufus for a while, but now that I am actually experiencing it with Rian (age 13) it sucks. They REALLY do think you are lame. I am NOT lame, I'm NOT, I'm NOT, I'm NOT!

    But what really prompted a comment is The Office. It is one of the very few things that Rian and I can talk about. Gotta hold onto that.

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  5. Holden is entering his my-mom's-a-dufus phase early (age 5 instead of age 10). The first thing he said to me yesterday morning was "I don't think you're the right Mom for me." We decided to take out an ad ala the children on Mary Poppins. I suppose NOT forcing your children to go to swim lessons and NOT singing aloud to Neil Diamond would be at the top of his list of requirements.

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  6. I love this entry on so many levels. First, it's funny, second, it's enlightening. Parents are peripheral people. Sad, but true.

    I don't let my kids watch Caillou either because he whines to his parents and therefore gets what he wants. Bad precedent.

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  7. I really thought the SPOILER ending of Harry Potter made that point too: it was all about Harry for so long but in the end he has his own kids and now they are the main players. I loved that. We can talk more about Harry Potter if you want.

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  8. If parents are peripheral AND lame...what does that make the childless? I should stay in bed today...and I can, because I'm childless...and I have Netflix movies to watch.

    But aren't childless aunts cooler than moms? I think so. I am Auntie Mame. Please call me that from now on.

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  9. Anonymous12:45 PM

    Mommy's lame but Auntie's Mame. In real life, Carrie Anne reminds me of a cross between Carrie Fisher (the novelist, not the princess) and Ginger on Gilligan's Island. Who wouldn't want to be ersatz mothered by that? My spouse and I both have aunts (maiden and cousin-bearing) who have been hugely important in our lives. As to the original question, Sam is way lucky to be who he is (only in part because of his parentage), and I watch his family, often in 30 minute segments, as if it were a compelling, moralizing sitcom.

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  10. Celine Dion's child's favorite show is Caillou, and that's all I'm saying about that.

    Friday Night Lights is amazing.

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