Recently, I dropped my best friend’s kid off at Julliard (yes, the Julliard) for an interview (I live near Manhattan, and it was “no big whoop” to get him there). Without going into details or divulging the secrets of his life, let’s just say that a few weeks later I learned that he was accepted! In the back of my mind, I have a vision of this “child” in his bassinet at the age of less than one week. I also remember giving his parents a collection of Beethoven records when they married; guess those notes seeped in.
A few days after that, I hired a young man to replace our leaking roof. It just so happened that this 22-year-old “kid” and his l9-year-old brother had pretty much grown up in my home. For years they were my own sons’ close friends: I used to help them with their homework after school, feed them popcorn, and watch them play softball. Now these “youngsters” were up on my roof, hammering nails and risking their lives.
Another child—a friend of my son’s—is in banking. He handles my money (or lack thereof). Another kid—a young lady--is about to join the Peace Corps. Two more are heading off to grad school to study chemistry and math, two subjects that I would flunk at the seventh-grade level were I to tackle them now. My own son, about to graduate from college next month, will one day soon be designing real buildings instead of constructing Lego or Lincoln-Log homes.
It’s kind of weird to watch your friends’ kids age. Most parents realize that their own children are going to grow up, even though we sometimes don’t really like to think about it. Still, we know that our job is to raise our children to become adults. That’s what we’re here for.
But what about those other kids, the kids we watched line up for nursery school, perform in the Spring musical, or dribble balls on the Rec Center basketball court? We don’t ever really imagine them as grown-up men, or women.
Until, one day, they are fixing our roofs, managing our finances, or composing the music for films that won’t be produced until we’re in our sixties…or beyond.
I suppose this could depress me, but for some reason it makes me feel happy, hopeful and proud. Yes, I still have some dreams that I’m chasing and I don’t intend to give them up. But I’m also okay with the fact that a new generation is ready to step up to the plate. And whether they are hammering nails, writing operas, trading stocks, or anything else, I know they will do well. No, better than well. They will be magnificent!
After all, I know their parents. And, I trust that all those “kids” we nurtured and loved are ready to carry the torch.