Here’s a snapshot that indicates where we are in the life of this household, in these times, in these here United States.
Two Saturdays ago, the kids were upstairs cleaning their rooms. Slowly and with much distraction, but that goes without saying. Liam, in seventh grade, was cranking up the copy of “Who’s Next” that he got for Christmas. It’s been amusing and incredibly nostalgic to have him playing this around the house. (It was even more evocative in December, when we played it in the car on the way to go skiing. All sorts of pictures of 1972 style–string art, big sideburns, bold wall prints, platform shoes, and ski lodge decor–swam through my head intoxicatingly. The ski lodge decor was still up at the ski hill, but everything else came from memory. And there was my kid in the back, singing a lusty version of “Bargain” and trying out some windmill guitar.) We’ve seen all sorts of attempts at teenage rebellion in recent months, more willed it seems than really intrinsically necessary. But adolescence is barreling along like a student driver, no doubt about it.
In her room, Liesel was cleaning up her dolls and singing along with a CD of “Schoolhouse Rock” in a sweet little girl’s voice. My wife must have encouraged her to play it to get some help on her multiplication tables, which are making 4th grade very trying. It was a nice innocent scene, starkly contrasted with the newfound rock decadence in the other bedroom. I could see the chasm that will inevitably grow between the brother and sister, and between the kids and their parents. While they still get along as well as brother and sister can, things will be changing soon, and there will be lots of laughs and lots of screaming and tears.
Childhood is beginning to fade away in this household, and that’s certainly okay, and in any event can’t be stopped. I enjoyed the little twinge of heartbreak I felt when I considered this scene. It made me wish for the first time that we had more than two kids, so the scene — and countless others, of bigger kids helping the younger, younger ones holding onto their youth, fear, pride, uncertainty, craziness — could be replayed a few more times.