Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Kid in All of Us

A recent chronological event got me thinking about childhood.
Logically enough, that took me to the concept of adulthood and the connection between the two. Yes, I know – events in our childhood have a deep impact on our later lives in spite of the proportionally small amount of time that childhood fills. 

I think childhood says more about us than the way we rose above it or tried to mimic its perfection in our own children’s lives.

          In spite of now living several states away, my daughter has stayed in touch with Tricia, a friend she has known since she was four years old. Tricia was one of those straight-shooting, good kids. She played fair, was polite without being cloying, and never kicked up a fuss. She’s still like that to this day.

          It makes you wonder. What were the adults we know like when they were kids? Which of them used to  march off home with the only soccer ball because they thought their kick should have gone in? Which one always designated herself as the one in charge? Do people ever really un-learn being self-centered, or bossy, or duplicitous?  If we had known them then, would we still think so highly of them today?

I ran into a fellow teacher the other day and we inevitably fell into
reminiscences of past students and where they are today. This person had
glowing reports of several students that we’d both taught during their
high school years. One is on Wall Street, another is a golden boy working his way up through state politics. I wish them well but find their achievements particularly galling amazing.  

          The Wall Street success would always sweep into my room late, making the most amount of noise possible, ensuring that she was the center of attention.  Just as things would settle down and I would open my mouth to begin the lesson again, she would pick up her behemoth of a purse and turn it upside on her desk. Lipsticks, notebooks, bananas, granola bars, and the equivalent of sailor’s footlocker would cascade onto the surface. Her completed assignments had potential, but were slapdash and superficial – oh, and late.

          The golden boy of politics only lasted three days in my class before transferring out after one day storming off in some kind of emotional snit. It was an 11th grade International Baccalaureate English class and very challenging. He had chosen to be there and was certainly capable of doing the work. That was the rub, though. 
       He was one of those students who wanted the glory of being in an IB class, but had forgotten that it came with expectations. He could be charming with adults and through sheer popularity with his classmates, he was voted president of his class, but then was unable to speak – or even attend – graduation. He had executed his own senior prank: There was a sloped airwalk between the academic building and sports/science wing. He spread liquid soap over the airwalk and down a nearby staircase. Not the best idea in a building where several of the students are special needs.

          I felt that I had met the real version of these people in high school and found it difficult to believe that as adults they had changed all that much.

Maturity and the acquisition of social skills are just veneer. To the most part, the core of us is our six, seven, or eight-year-old selves.



  1. So I'm not just mean and cynical when I wonder why LAST YEAR'S band seniors found it necessary to TP all the trees in front of the high school and fork one of the yards shortly after high school commenced this year. Pathetic.

  2. As a retired teacher, I humbly beg to disagree a little. I taught in the same school for 28 years and former students sent their children back to the same school. Most former students had grown immensely from the time I had them. Only a few were worse. However, I am always happy to meet former students and see how they've matured and grown.

  3. Have you seen the British Up Series? Seven Up is the first one. They continue for every seven years. The whole idea is that we are "formed" at seven years of age. I think you would like it. On Netflix.

  4. I don't know about the Wall Street student but doesn't the golden boy of politics sound a lot like some who have made it in politics? Hope it's okay to say that.

  5. With some exceptions, the attributes needed to succeed in business or politics are generally rather ugly. I agree that they are often an ingrained part of the person's early make up. Just as the cool aspects, like your daughter's friend have were always there. She sounds like the much bigger success. I think you are right on.

  6. I think the Wall Street and political former students probably use those same tactics to succeed as adults but I surely hope I am a nicer person than I was at 7 or even in high school. Or maybe I'm still the one to blurt the truth but hopefully I've learned more tact.


Thanks for stopping by and I'd love to hear what you think.