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Old Soul

It has to be one of the oldest clichés in the book, this notion that some young people have old souls. When applied to a preschooler, it’s a marker of something even worse than hoary sentimentality; it’s the type of cheap humor you find in movies starring celebrities on their way down or in any number of television commercials when cherubic children spout of knowing, adult lines.

And yet, every so often a rollicking conversation fueled by preschool logic and perspective screeches to a halt at a red-light of adult understanding. The effect can be funny or unnerving; often both at the same time.

As potty training has progressed, I’ve used the term “big boy” a lot. “Simon, do you want to wear big-boy underwear today?” I’ll ask. Or “Simon, I love it when you put on your own pants. You’re getting to be such a big boy!” Perhaps counter-intuitively, the more I discuss what a big boy Simon is getting to be, the more I’m reminded of how young he is today.

But then, on the same day I spent an uncharacteristic amount of time surveying the ravages of time in a mirror (When did that blood vessel break in my face? Where did that spider vein come from? Man my temples are gray…), Simon seemed to confront his own mortality.

“I don’t want to be a big boy, Mommy. I don’t want to get older. I want to be new.”

He seemed so sincere, that I couldn’t even laugh. All I could muster was a weak, “Oh honey, you are new. You are new, and growing, and learning every day. It’s marvelous.”

Then last night, lying side by side in his bed, he slew me again. We began with our nightly discussion of Simon’s day.

“Tell me about what I did today, Mommy.”

[I recite a whole bunch of daily, boring stuff] “And then, who did you play with on the playground?

“Baron.  I said I was Superman. But I wasn’t Superman; Baron was Superman.”

“Then who were you?

“I was Batman. But I don’t like superheroes. [This after much discussion of the same and a fairly decent Iron Man imitation he’s picked up from Baron.]

“You don’t?

“No. I like cars and trains and buses and planes and helicopters.

True that. How young he seemed then. How innocent and, well, new.

“And then it was nap-time. But I didn’t take a nap. Sometimes when it’s time to sleep, I just can’t stop thinking. I just lie in my bed and think and think and think and don’t sleep.”

I know the feeling, honey! But I had hoped that he was too young for this affliction. I just hope and hope and hope that he was thinking and thinking and thinking about Batman, Superman, chasing Baron, and things that go zoom and NOT the fact that he won’t always be new.

2 Responses to “Old Soul”

  1. Amanda says:

    I understand. As a kid I was always aware of time passing, that what happened today was gone and would never happen again. It’s a melancholy thing.

  2. blg says:

    Wow, what a kid you have!

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