“enjoy them while they’re young.”
if i had a nickel for every time this was said to me as i walk around with the girls, i would never have to think about losing one every time (every time should be one word.) i used a quarter to plug the meter in downtown florence. (see yesterdays blog post). i could be at the shopping mall, gas station, park, anywhere and inevitably someone looks at me, mostly with a dreamy look as if they are so pained by what became of their kids, that they are trying to vaporize and enter my body, to hold those little hands one more time, and they say, with a shake of their head ‘man, enjoy them while they’re young’. i typically laugh and say ‘they get older? not these ones, the breeder promised.’ perhaps it isn’t fair to say that they are ‘pained’ by the fact that their kids grew up, but that they are thinking back to a time when their kids were innocent, believing, and otherwise looked to them as if ‘there were no others’, and then puberty hit, influences outside of parental controls took center stage, boyfriends, girlfriends, parties, choices, decisions, and the eventual move out of the home. perhaps it isn’t all that. perhaps they are looking at a picture in time when they were happiest, or they are looking back and wishing they could have a do over. or, and this is the last perhaps, perhaps, they are simply made happy by the sight of young children and want to make sure that you appreciate the time that you have with them. perhaps, oops i lied, it is a favor that all parents who have older children give to parents with younger children, a reminder to slow down and enjoy this life, not just their lives, but the life that you have. not only should we enjoy ‘them’ while we are young, but we should enjoy ‘us’ while we are young. or, and this is my last hypothesis, it is something that people, who don’t know what else to say, say. like ‘cute baby’ or the ‘how are you’ when they don’t really want to know. a side note: no one has ever stood next to me in a public restroom while i changed a wiggling, screaming, poopy handed baby’s diaper all the while doing my best owl impersonation to keep the other child’s hands out of the urinal. ‘no, those are not real cakes’. and said ‘enjoy them while they are young’
so, all these ‘enjoy them while they’re young”s (can you do that with an apostrophe?) have got me thinking. thinking about: the enjoyment of life in general, about sharing happiness, and about how we go about expressing our joys. people say ‘enjoy them while they’re young’ as if there is a lifetime of agony after the first 10 years. people don’t stop and say ‘man, you look happy. i remember how much i enjoyed my kids at that age. life’s transitions and stages are awesome. i am so happy today’. no, they don’t. in fact many people would think that someone saying that is either obnoxious or on some really good medicine. but, we do seem damn good as a country, society, culture (whichever way you want to slice it) in expressing our sorrows, our outrages (mostly manufactured to prove to any doubters what side we are on), disappointments, and otherwise the things in life that have kept us from happiness. we seem to take comfort in the struggle of life, and look at times when we are ‘doing well’ as lucky or ‘times of good fortune’. first off, and i recently had this discussion with a friend of mine – not in these exact terms, but the word lucky should not apply to how people get to where they are in life, unless you truly were lucky – like won the lottery. you are not lucky to have a job, you are not lucky to have children who are polite, you are not lucky (or shouldn’t be) to go visit a doctor, luck did not influence your abilities. that term, ‘lucky’, is a way that we have found to let people believe that we were not in full control of obtaining or becoming the things that we have or are. you know? if we know someone may not have it as well as us (in any respect) we chalk it up to luck, we feel compelled to squelch what we have done, or how we feel, in order to, well, i’m not sure what we are trying to protect or why we do this. i understand being humble, i have never been a braggart, and i don’t believe in making people jealous of what i have in my life. because, i certainly wouldn’t want them to feel sorry for me either. i try not to live a life where i view others, who show their pleasure in life, as being obnoxious. they are happy.
are we afraid of expressing happiness? i don’t mean all together, but i feel myself withdraw from expressing how cool my life is right now (when my life is cool right then) more than i find myself holding back sharing disappointments when they happen. for me, and perhaps you, i fear that expressing my triumphs and joys would be viewed as obnoxious. have you ever had a friend tell you how tough things are for them? yes, we all have heard it and said it. have you then been afraid and held back on expressing honestly, when you are doing well, how well you are doing?
this is embarrassing, but when I was younger, this is bad, but I used to wish that something horrible had happened in my life. i wished that i had had a series of terrible events that i could somehow use to justify the ‘edge’ that I felt inside. i thought that if bad things happened to me, it would make me more real. people wouldn’t question why i was doing what i was doing, actually, they would just feel sorry for me. yuck. (by the way the Internet just went out, i lost three paragraphs, and they were not sure when it would be back up. i’m typing on my phone and hoping you’ll forgive the mistakes and incomplete thoughts (you’re probably used to) while I try to get this post published. going back to this post once the internet gets back up and running, who knows when, is not something I want to do.) it’s not just me that feels this way, i can recall walking (intended) down the hallway at school and over-hearing kids sharing their ‘war stories’ – the kid with the worst life story was undoubtedly the ‘coolest’.
when someone tells you how well they are doing – how do you respond? what do you think? yes, perhaps i’m prattling on about the negatives here as well, but i’m trying to understand why we fear feeling proud and happy – at times.
perhaps we fear over expressing, or expressing, our joys because we are fearful of what we enjoy.
our daughters remind us to look at the parts of life that we may lose touch of as we age. perhaps that is why people tell you to ‘enjoy them while they are young.’ maybe they are telling you to enjoy having a daily reminder of how wonderfully fantastically awesome life is, and you just helped them glimpse at that reminder once again.
ahhh darn internet. i may have to fill my comments section with clarifiers and further thoughts when the internet comes back on. this little screen doesn’t make correcting or editing easy.
sing a happy song to yourself, and don’t feel lucky to breathe air, feel inspiration from each breath.