The moment you take the adult side of things–ugh.
When we get down to it, we have to face the fact that much of the realization that we’re not that special coincides with the
realization that we’re not kids anymore. This can happen at any age, and can happen multiple times, but this morning it hit me particularly hard.
The truth is that kids are Special. They are this way because they think they’re special–they don’t realize that the world is made up of not millions, but billions of people, with problems, challenges, triumphs, intelligence, accomplishment, that is on an exponentially greater scale than their own. And this is actually something we love about kids. They live like they own the world, as they should. Certain exceptions apply: Anne Frank, Steve Jobs, and this kid. These and others like them not only thought they were special–they were actually that special).
This morning I was listening to Z100 in the morning. If you’ve never done this, good for you. If you have, you might know of something called getting “phone tapped,” which in Z100 speak means getting set up to be crank-called by the station. Here’s an example of one in which a high school senior, Ashley, gets Danielle from the station to pose as a school administrator, call Ashley’s mom, and report that Ashley won’t be graduating. Trust me; this one, as painful as it is to listen to, is one of the funny ones.
This morning, however, I had my…there’s no other way to put it…adult moment. Some kid got Danielle (I believe) to call the kid’s dad and pretend to be a girlfriend with whom he’d just crashed the dad’s car on the highway. [Note how even my language, “Some kid…” reveals my old-man bias] The father listens in horror as “Monica” tells him how she was fooling around with his son, which led to his son getting into an accident somewhere on ’95, that no one’s hurt but the car is totaled. She then she starts singing along to the radio. I tried to find parts, any parts, funny. I felt a little twitch up in my mouth when Monica started shushing the Dad, who was swearing at her, so she could hear the song that was playing. In some sick way that was, yes, comedy. But I had to accept a fact. Not a single shred of my personality identified with this kid, or this station, or this type of humor. All I could do was think about the Dad and what he was going through, how his son could put him through that kind of heartache just for a radio prank.
And many of my readers will agree with me, which is as it should be. But I don’t wholly agree with myself. We can feel superior as adults for having empathy, compassion, common sense, decency, whatever Jeffersonian term of our choosing (who was more adult than the Founding Fathers?). But we’re also losing something when we cross this threshold. We lose the feeling that we’re the most important people in the world, that the world is placed here for us to enjoy, to love, to twist and mangle and then put back together. We lose our Puck and take on Oberon, and while that is natural and good, it is also, in another real sense extremely upsetting and sad. A door is closing behind us and we can never, ever go back to the room we left. It’s aroom where we were the center of it all, where laughter ruled, where a fall night could mean a meal up in a tree with a neighborhood friend, or a summer could mean dirt, sun and friends, instead of work, e-reservations, childcare, self-improvement, and all the great things that come with being an adult. It’s going, going, gone, and we have to deal with that. But we can still shout to the rooftops that we’re not happy about it!
I’m wondering if any FOOS (Fellow Occupiers Of Special land) would like to share a moment when they felt utterly, hopelessly, bitter-sweetly but undeniably…adult.