Twenty-Three and Me or My Son
I’m only 23 years old, and my son says:
“I’m not going to do this kind of thing when I’m your age. When I’m 23 it will be different.”
“Wait until you’re a teenager,” I say.
He leaves me standing alone in an ancient kitchen. I have the same Formica counter tops in every dream.
“When I’m a teenager,” my son says, “I’m not going to take advice from my parents. Maybe I’ll consider that when I’m 23.”
The boy sees himself as an older man; even before he’s a teenager he speaks as if he’s already 23.
And I’m thinking soon the kid will have all these teenage years to gain insight–all those years before he’s 23.
But now, somehow, my son looks back as an older man, much older than 23, whose teenage years are done. Now he talks down to me as if
I’m the one who’s actually 23.
Or maybe my son is talking to himself.
Or, I am my son and I’m watching him talk to me–which means he’s talking to himself–because I’ll always be 23 and in my heart he’ll always
be a teenager learning about himself–about life and about how to apply the lessons of others.
I watch my son talk to himself and see that he understands.
No. I see he doesn’t understand. He thinks the future is so far away—though it’s already passed.
But from listening to my son I begin to realize: he’s the one with the more realistic insight. He understands the value of a single year.
Perhaps I’m the one who tossed the years away.
As I aged, I transferred my future expectations to my son and somehow he embellished them with more insight–a deeper and richer
understanding of what it means to take advantage of his youth.
We think we’ll always be 23, but soon enough our children surpass us. They surpass the age we could ever imagine them at.
How can this be?
Aren’t they still children?
At most they are teenagers
and will never be older.
© Richie Smith
© Richie Smith