Young Or Old? Yes
As I sit here typing this, my youngest son, known to many as Hyper Lad1, is standing at my right shoulder and whining.
Sorry. Excuse me. I’ve been informed that it’s not whining. He’s presenting a cogent, coherent, reasoned, fact-filled argument standing up against oppressive, dictatorial regimes and for good old-fashioned American values and the red, white and blue!2
Although, to be honest, I’ve got to say that this cogent, coherent, reasoned, fact-filled argument sounds a lot like whining.
See, the deal is this: Zippy the College Boy3 is home from college for the summer and that means it’s the time of year when the normally more-mature-for-his-age Hyper Lad starts to revert to immaturity, at least in his dealings with parents.
And, because my lovely wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Getting Lucky (To Not Be Dealing With This Right Now), is working at the hospital and bringing babies into the world, that means I get to deal with the sudden, meteoric descent into immaturity.
I guess it’s only fair. I mean, I’m the one who sees the spontaneous smile when he rushes out to the car, clutching a good grade in his (for instance)
Spanish class. I’ve got to pay for those privileges somehow. This looks to be it.
The problem is that it’s always so shocking when Hyper Lad acts anywhere near his real age because he’s acted much more mature for most of his life, or at least since the time when he realized that not everyone walks around with absorbant, plastic underwear to catch various excreta and hold them for later removal.
And it’s not because he wants to be more like dad. (If that were the case, he’d be walking around with his nose permanently in a book, wearing a comic-book shirt of some kind and not cutting his hair while he still has it. We’ve already got one of those, my namesake and oldest, Sarcasmo4) No, what he’s trying to do is be more like his older brothers.
The definition of cool for Hyper Lad has always been something about five years older than it should be because it’s what his brothers were obsessing over. Fortunately, Hyper Lad has some nice brothers and they let him hang around with their friends and didn’t make fun of him. Well, not too much.
What they liked, he liked. What they played, he wanted to play. Which made for some interesting scenes when they would be allowed to see a PG-13 movie and he wouldn’t.
“He’s 15. You’re 10” became a standard piece of the evenings conversation around the spacious confines of stately Dude Manor for a while there. That eventually changed though. Into “He’s 16. You’re 11.” Not much difference there.
Hanging with older kids did have some benefits in that he was able to see and model behavior that didn’t come from a parent, but was much more mature than he or his friends. He learned early how to behave in age-mixed company. Although he still thinks fart jokes are the apex of sophisticated humor. Heck, they all do. Must be a (young) guy thing.5
During the school year, Hyper Lad has a rigidly enforced, non-changing bed time. We’re not optimistic that he’s actually going to sleep when he goes to bed, but at least he’s there and he’s not still goofing off on a computer or a game. Most days, he has no problem with the bed time, although he does occasionally ask if he’d be allowed to stay up later. My standard response is that if he’d get up on time in the morning without me having to poke him with a long stick, then he could stay up later. No change in bed times yet.
Anyway, with Zippy the College Boy home from college, he’s hanging around the house and still adjusting to living in a building where it matters what time he goes to sleep, where other people are trying to sleep so he can’t be playing the music or TV very loud and stomping around. While he’s working on that, Hyper Lad is working on me.
If his brother gets to stay up, he reasons, then Hyper Lad should also be allowed to stay up. Hence the whining.
I think it might be time to dust off an old favorite.
“He’s 19. You’re 14. Deal with it.”
Footnotes & Errata
1. Don’t ask.
2. He pays far too much attention to political advertising during the busy times of the election cycle.
3. Not his real name.
4. Not his real name, either.
5. Here’s the difference between men and boys. When someone gets hit over the back of the head with an obnoxious smell, gags and almost passes out, then heads over to another male and says, “Here. Smell it.” the adult male says no. At least the first time.