Laying in bed tonight Jake asked me if he could stay eleven years old. I asked why. He replied, “I’m not ready for the world yet, can I still stay a kid?” I wondered what was at the root of his comment. Lately we’ve stopped turning down NPR when the kids are in the car. They hear about the economy, tea party and the latest exploits of Ms. Pallin. We figured they were old enough.
That was not the case until recently. When Jake and Lily were toddlers we would hold the world’s conflicts at arms length. Partly as a response to an incident when Jake was three. On 9-11 he mistakenly heard a NPR report that people were holding hands as the jumped from the World Trade Center roof. From that point on Lisa and I decided the world could wait to fill their little ears with its’ fear, sadness and loathing.
Now, my ‘tween son hears the rumblings of what’s ahead of him. He and I recently watched the remarkable documentary “Willam Kunstler: Distrubing the Universe.” Jake was shocked when he saw Gov. Rockfeller send in troops into Attica. “Dad, Mr. Kunstler just wanted the prisoners to have a decent bed and good food. Why did they send the troops to kill all those people?” We talked about Attica for two days.
This year Jake did not want to do a big birthday with his friends. He just wanted a steak dinner that included his family and our friend Alison who adores Jake. I can’t believe how damn low key he was about turning twelve.
Just before Jake closed his eyes tonight, he said “Dad, I have a whole life time to be grown up. I just can be a kid for sixteen years. That’s just four years away.” Then we sat in bed quietly. Jake reached over and squeezed my hand with his head resting on my arm. “Can we at least pretend that I’m eleven.” I held him close, wishing, that I could stop time.