JWR Schticks and groans

Jewish World Review Oct. 22 1998 / 3 Mar-Cheshvan, 5759

Iíll take adulthood

By Erica Meyer Rauzin

EVEN IF WE ARE GOING TO BE OUT LATE, even if I promise circuses and ice cream, even if is Shabbes afternoon, I canít get my kids to take naps anymore.

The exception to this problem is my 15-year-old daughter, who doesnít need to take an afternoon nap because she hasnít gotten out of bed yet.

Although I do remember fighting the entire concept of napping when I was a child, now I welcome any opportunity to catch a little cat nap.

This is only one of the many differences, some obvious and some more difficult to detect, between adults and children. Yes, we are taller and better educated; yes, we have money and insurance, and they donít, but there is more to it than that.

Most kids are happy to live with a profusion of animals. They are delighted with dogs, cats, fish, rabbits, snakes, turtles, frogs or lizards. Adults are usually content to have a single animal, preferably a totally docile goldfish or maybe a small to medium-sized mammal with some modicum of common sense and training, and an affectionate disposition. Something no one but my eight- year-old has ever detected in a turtle.

Kids are happy if all their clothes are piled in a mountain in the corner of the bedroom. The basic child only wants to wear denim and a favorite T-shirt, anyway. Generally, when a little boy puts on a suit, coercion is at work. Adults, on the other hand, prefer a variety of reasonably well-laundered clothing, neatly arrayed in the closet, please.

Adults do get attached to their possessions, particularly things like diamond rings, silver Shabbat candlesticks, and good cameras, so they are like children in that regard. However, the adultís choice of items is likely to be understandable (collectors of Barbie or Elvis memorabilia to the contrary not withstanding).

Children give their whole-hearted affection to objects that do not deserve it at all. My son, for instance, spent most of yesterday afternoon loving scrubbing a chunk of old driveway concrete that is etched with the shapes of blades of grass. He believed this was a fossil find that would be of interest to the worldís most prestigious museums. In the effort to make the grass lines show to their best advantage, he used his toothbrush to wash the concrete chunk with his sisterís nine-dollar-a-bottle organic shampoo, his fatherís blue styling gel, and an entire container of Windex.

Then there is the whole area of food.

Adults like many foods. Children fix on one at a time (this same son has eaten little except macaroni and cheese since 1995). Adults like dessert after meals. Children want ice cream for breakfast. Kids care if their potatoes touch their peas. Adults do not care (and even those who do wouldnít admit it). Adults care if food is Kosher, tasty, healthful, pretty, and economical. Children care if food is fun to play with and comes in bright colors (think Fruit Loops), often colors adults could not bring themselves to consume (name a bright blue food youíd actually eat).

There are ways in which Iíd like to be more childlike. Iíd like to be more trusting, more imaginative, more spontaneous. But, even so, I would still like to reserve the use of my toothbrush exclusively for my teeth.

Actually, there are many reasons that being big and having some understanding of the world is better than being small and bewildered. Toothbrushes and all, Iíll take adulthood.

This is also a good choice for me, life cycle-wise, since I like balanced meals, not just mounds of macaroni. So please pass that plateful (and just leave a little space between the potatoes and the peas).

JWR contributor Erica Meyer Rauzin comments on the contemporary Jewish condition.


©1998, Erica Meyer Rauzin