There’s a Yiddish expression, “kleine kinder, kleine tzuris… groise kinder, groise tzuris.” Little kids, little problems… big kids, big problems. Little kids fall down, they need kisses, hugs, diapers, any number of small attentions. It gets annoying, but you know, at the end of the day, that they adore you, that they’d do anything for you.
And big kids – well, I’m stumped.
Honestly, I’m stumped. What the heck do they need?
Big Boy has found himself a Woman, and by “Woman,” I mean a girl who thinks she is all grown up, the way I did when I was in Grade Whatever and I was all that and figured they should repaint the signs on the bathroom doors so they didn’t say “girls” because none of us were, dammit, and give us adult privileges without annoying hassles of any kind.
I will not get into specifics, but based on events this evening, I will say that it has become very, very hard not to judge the character of this person, and by association, the character of my own child… and I am very, very disappointed.
Now, smart people, people who “did things” in their own youths, people who “went through phases,” have told me already, so I already know: this will pass; this could mean nothing.
On the other hand, it could mean something. He is 17, the exact age his father was when he met me and swore undying love. The Princess Bride was a new movie and he was a romantic anyway, brought up by English teachers on beautiful notions of chivalry and heroism. He wooed me with Chaucer and waited ‘till his 18th birthday to propose and I nicely turned him down. We were married almost exactly two years later, and although we divorced two children later, he was right about the love, which never did die.
I just wish somebody could tell me which kind of thing this is: the kind that will pass, quickly, and we’ll look back and laugh, or the kind where we’ll look back in later years and say, “well, I guess that was the turning point.”
In my gloomy mood right now, I am looking at this moment as a brief and startling instant of clarity that much of the hard work of raising him is going straight down the drain.
But I can still hope it’s the first kind, can’t I?