When I was a new adult, 18-22 years old, I thought I was a goof ball. Maturity hit me late so I didn’t really physically “fill in” until 19, but mentally I still loved silly humor and not having any responsibility. I really felt like I was still a kid and in turn I tried to hang on to certain youthful qualities.
“I will always look at the world through new eyes.”
“I will tolerate every type of person.”
“I will still believe in the magic of a moment.”
Just some of the creeds of my life at that time. Here I am almost twice the life away and all I’ve learned is that I don’t know as much as I thought I did. And now I’ve come to a conclusion: I have a Grumpy Old Man taking over the Meetings of My Mind.
Becoming a parent while I was still trying to grow up myself, I believe really took a toll on my “fun” side. I’ve forced myself to mold into what I thought a grown-up looks like. Starbucks coffee in hand, business suit, briefcase, always busy, very grounded at all times, structured, disciplined – All descriptors of what I made a picture of.
Then I have those moments with my children when I believe they were put here to remind me of the great, big world around us. My earliest memory was when The Teen was just over a year old and a storm blew by in a grand march of thunder and lightning…afterwards, The Teen and I went outside to jump in puddles. At one point, he suddenly just stopped and was staring at this little yelllow butterfly. In that moment, the whole world didn’t move and I was stunned by the magic.
My kids have been the army to defend against what’s happening now and I feel the tides of that war changing. When thinking about holidays, I have to plan and schedule and budget…all things that kill that spontaneity of life in my opinion. And then when they get to presents on Christmas morning, I hope beyond hope they are just as excited as me and can enjoy that magic one more day. And then later they start asking questions as to why they didn’t this or that. Now I go back into parent mode and analyze, “What have I done wrong?” We start to have conversations around “things” and what is in the joy of Christmas, how Love plays a huge role in our Faith.
And the Grumpy Old Man in me comes out and just wants to have things they way they were intended. I want my kids to be better than me. Not waiting until their late 30’s to learn how to keep yourself disciplined on budgets and spending. To look forward and figure out how to plan for the future. Take full advantage of the opportunities around you now in school and activities. And yes, some things will be hard but they will be worth it in the long run.
I’ve found that the Grumpy Old Man sneaks into my mental conference room where he is surrounded by people like Robin Williams and my Dad. He gets into arguments about how you can’t be too serious when it comes to keeping the house spotless and reminds me retirement is coming in 20+ years so I better be ready.
At some point, it feels like Robert Deniro jumps up on the table with a baseball ball yelling, “YOU WANT A PIECE OF ME?” Between him and Jim Carrey, they start beating the snot out of the old man and I can finally let go of my control needs and let the kids be kids, including me get down on the floor with Legos or grab a Nerf gun and go sneaking through the house.
The Wife Unit once pointed out to me that I’m a person of extremes, that I speak in absolutes. She’s right. I think if I’m going to continue to look for the fun side of things, I’m going to have to let go of the images I set myself up with. I can’t always be stodgy, structured, and resigned.
Sometimes I just need Jim Carey and Bob Deniro giving me the stink eye with those great smirks of theirs and a wink while standing over this old man in my head and telling me, “We got this, you go play.”