It was sometime during first grade. I just remember the day being sunny. But we get 329 of those every year in Southern California so it could have been October. Or February. Who knows?
Mrs. Hart had a mixed class due to overcrowding in LA Unified School District classes. Some classes had first and second graders. Some second and third graders. Around that age, they figured, some of the more adapt younger students could be mixed in with a grade older. Somehow I made the cut.
During an activity, being the goofball and attention-seeker that I am, I took a bottle of that grade-school glue. You know, the kind that tasted a little salty (don’t say you didn’t try it) and was clumpy and came in clear bottles that resembled ketchup and mustard containers at a burger joint.
I was messing around, typical for a 6-year-old boy and turned it over my head. I didn’t squeeze, but I said Oh, look, I’m washing my hair!
Suddenly, the glue came out. All over my head. Talk about the best hair gel you can get.
Mrs. Hart was furious. She grabbed me by the arm and pulled me to the sink she had in her classroom. She scrubbed my head so hard I thought my hair was going to fall out.
Why can’t you just grow up? she yelled at me.
Not many years later, and for subsequent years after that, my dad would ask the same thing every time I did something that was fun and silly. Basically, being a kid.
Matthew, grow up.
Act your age.
Can you please just stop screwing around and act like an adult?
As adults, of course we all want our kids to act older and more mature. It’s what we’re used to and after long days, or weeks, of work we just want to relax. Having a kid prevents that from happening the way you always envision.
It’s not that I was 14 years old and crawling around under tables at restaurants. Or speaking in a baby voice while conversing with others. I was just being a kid. Enjoying life.
My dad, who doesn’t seem to get much joy out of life’s daily pleasures – at least not outwardly – just wanted me to fall in line like the rest of society.
My daughter is three. She tells me every day she is almost four. Technically speaking, she is correct. Literally speaking, she is months away. The concept of time has eluded her thus far in her life.
Daddy, I’m going to be four tomorrow.
Then I’m going to be five, and then six, and then seven, and then eight, and then nine, and then 10! Then when I’m 10 I can have coffee!
Not quite, but needless to say she is looking forward to growing up.
Weren’t we all when we were young?
Watching John Hughes movies in the 1980s I couldn’t wait to get to high school. Then when high school turned out to be as much joy as you’d get passing a kidney stone, I couldn’t wait for college.
As much fun as I had in my time in college, I couldn’t wait to begin my career.
And then, all of a sudden, I was 30 yearning for the carefree days of the summers when I was 18, 19 and so on.
It’s difficult for a kid to not want to grow up. Adults get to do all the cool things!
Stay up late. Drive cars. Drink coffee. Play on the computer.
I get it.
Right now, my daughter sees children at her daycare/school who are older and she wants to be in their classes. She wants to not only climb the monkey bars, but climb on top of the monkey bars.
Let’s worry about mastering swimming first, sweetheart.
So it pains me when she gets so excited to get another year older.
Slow down. Let’s enjoy the moment. Meander in the front yard and blow the dandelions. I love watching you experience the world for the first time.
Don’t tell me to hurry up and ride home when you’re on the back of my bike … I’m enjoying this with you right now. I’d love for you to walk next to me in the grocery store, but isn’t it better if I can just push you in the cart a little while longer?
The world is scary at times. You don’t know that yet. You only see the beauty, the joy, the cloudless skies. As an adult you’re always on the lookout for potential rain.
Stay young. Be young. Keep smiling and keep giving me hugs.
You won’t hear me chide you to Grow Up! any time soon.
And, all of a sudden, this movie clip hits closer to home.