RSS Feed

Tag Archives: peter pan

Youth isn’t wasted on my son

“I don’t want to grow up.” Tyler, my oldest, then only three, looked up at me with serious eyes full of concern. “I want to be a baby.”

I looked down on him, tears welling. I had done this to him, I thought. I had given him this insecurity, along with his new baby brother. Distraught, with a touch of post-partum depression, I lovingly pushed his hair aside. It was the color of amber, like his eyes. My golden boy.

Of course, I did my best to reassure him that he could never be replaced, but he was no dummy. He heard and smelled his competition from a room away. We all did.

“Silly. You’ll always be my baby, no matter how old you are.” It was the truth. Always. Always. Always. Poo Poo Poo, may he live to be 100.

He looked up at me from his blue racing car toddler bed completely dissatisfied. “No. I want to be a baby!” He confirmed and then tried to crawl up my shirt.

Having a new baby was an adjustment for all of us. I figured he was going through what children typically did when a new sibling entered the household. He would out-grow it, I assured myself. But as the months and years went on, he not only did not outgrow it, he grew more and more resolved. The theme repeated itself, playing out sometimes subtly but often with huge dramatic tears over and over.

At four…

“I don’t like birthdays.”

At five…

“I don’t want to grow up.”

At six…

“I don’t want to grow old.”

At seven…

“I don’t want to die.”

At eight…

“I don’t want you to die.”

At nine…

“I don’t like birthdays. I don’t want to get older and have to leave my house. I don’t want to go away to sleep away camp. I don’t want to go away to college.”

At 10…

Breaking down into tears, desperate. “Mommy, I’m never going to be eight or nine or ten again! Once it’s gone, it’s gone! I mean, I kind of want to be a daddy and all, but…” Looks at me soulfully, sadly before emotion almost swallows his words. “I want to be the baby too.”

My poor, wonderful, sweet boy, he already knows the truth about growing up and growing older. He’s known it all along. And no matter how much I tell him that growing up is an adventure he will love, that he will experience things he can’t even imagine, that he can do and be anything, that the journey is a beautiful trip – the basics truths of life and death are already in him. When your eyes are open, you can’t help but see.

You wouldn’t know it to look at him. He’s a typical fifth grader; smart, goofy, athletic with lots of friends. He doesn’t have that edgy, pre-teen snark. He truly appreciates being young and revels in his childishness, clinging to the remnants of his babyhood. He joyfully snuggles with his mommy, treasures his stuffed toys and loves playing with the younger kids, leading them around like Peter Pan.

He might even engage in a game of ‘House’ where you can be sure he will cast himself as the baby. Or a puppy. They both suit him. So while my 10 year-old, crawling on the floor panting happily like a dog, might seem a little immature to you, believe me, he is wise beyond his years.

 

otto peter

Not actually my son, but the costume worked. Plus, he’s family. 🙂