Candor ends at 6?

November 4, 2010

Recently, David Rochester wrote:

Last night I had occasion to attend a Celebration of Autumn party which was heavily attended by the under-six crowd. In watching and listening to these children, I was struck by their directness; they asked for what they wanted, and were clear about what (and whom) they did and didn’t like. And I thought about the fact that we spend most of our adolescent and adult lives trying to recapture the honesty and candor we naturally had as young children. Most of us, I think, never do get back to that place of being really honest with ourselves and others. Yes, some of that is good boundaries, but a lot of it is fear-based. And I wonder what we’re afraid of … usually the consequence of honesty would be to part us from people and circumstances dragging us down and making us inauthentic.

Random Granddaughter is now six years old. We received an invitation from her private school, which she attends with children of a famous SW billionaire (for whom I would probably have to eliminate you with extreme prejudice if I named), to observe her in first grade during “Grandparents and Grandfriends Day.”

Does she really want Grandma and Grandpa to observe her? Her Mommies say, “Yes, she does.”

Or is she just saying that because she thinks she is supposed to? Well, probably she really wants us to attend. But by second grade she may just be acting polite.

Right now she throws a hissy fit when asked to eat something she does not want to eat, and she is direct in saying what she likes and doesn’t like. But pretty soon she will learn to eat what her parents and grandparents say she should eat, and pretty soon she will learn to hide the honesty and candor she had at two, three, four, and five years of age. Comes with the territory, I’m afraid.

I’ve put away most of what I’ve written about her in my blog with instructions for it to be given to her when she is fifteen years of age. If she hasn’t already run away from home by then or started a revolution somewhere or living in a commune in San Francisco or Washington, D.C. or Chicago.By then she will deny she ever knew me…or the child I described in her infancy and toddleracy.

You Won’t Grow Up?

November 16, 2008

A while back, David commented about Random Granddaughter:

I was just thinking the other day about the fact that RG was not yet three when I first “met” her via your blog. It’s weird that she talks on the phone now. It’s kind of sad, if you know what I mean. Children are children for such a short time, and grownups forever and ever once they get there. Until they revert to their second childhood of senility, that is, but that’s not nearly as much fun for observers as the first childhood is.

I am trying to be more fun in my senility than I was in my first childhood. As I lie there drooling, I hope the mommies will encourage RG to giggle at least as she spoon feeds me.

Seriously (sort of) this comment made me think about how adults love kittens, puppies, and little children. This affection strikes us so powerfully because they are still innocent, and we have lost our innocence. As John Donne so powerfully wrote, “Send not to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Humans are clever beasts; we are far too clever for our own good; we never know when to stop. The idea will occur to us to “freeze” kittens and puppies so they never develop into boring old cats and dogs. We are technologically close to being able to implement such monstrous behavior. (They won’t live longer; they just will never grow up.)

Once we succeed with the baby animals, we will turn our attention to our children. We will eventually create our own little Peter Pans and Petra Panettes who will grow enough to be toilet trained, but not much more.