Today I have a very different sort of topic that I just want to get out there into my little blogosphere, then next week we can go back to more of the usual.
I don’t feel good about my kids’ adulthood. Do other parents?
There’s a wealth of research suggesting that America’s abundant years of the second half of the twentieth century were a historical aberration, and that we’re now regressing to the mean, and in the mean, your kids don’t really do better than you do. Of course there will be exceptions, but generational improvement isn’t typical for any generations of any society. On top of that, there’s climate change.
But on top of THAT, there’s my particular kids. I don’t see Dar having a good adulthood. I could list 100 reasons, but readers of this blog should be able to glean at least 50 of them. What I haven’t really mentioned is my pessimism about Dar’s brother, whom this blog always calls R. For one thing, he’ll have to take care of Dar after his parents are dead, which will be very hard on him. For a second thing – and yes, I know how this sounds – all indications are that he’s going to be very short.
I know, I know, that’s not supposed to matter in our enlightened age. My wife often tells me that she liked me because of my height. She may not know that she’s increasing the pit in my stomach re: R’s future.
I think I was very lucky not to be very short. My dad was at least 6’2”, and skinny, making him noticeably tall. I remember during an argument we once had, I yelled at him, “Dad, why are you acting so jealous of me? You’re the one of us who went to Harvard. You’re the one that’s taller. You won!” I now wonder if he wanted to “win.” See, I don’t. I saw a friend post a picture of their kid next to them, an adolescent now an inch taller than them, and their friend commented “It isn’t fair, is it?” This is the opposite of how I feel. I think it’s unfair to R not to exceed me in height. What the hell is wrong with my family line, making shorter men?
Well, that’s not quite true. Dar looks like he’ll be as tall as me. Dar grows like a weed. And that’s all useless to the point of counter-productive, right? The bigger he is, the harder he is to deal with, either by his parents or by future institutions. People like kids, they don’t like non-verbal, self-injurious, meltdowny men. Ach, if we could only give some of Dar’s height to his brother. Or if R were female. I know, I know, but nothing you say will convince me that being 5’5” is as hard on a woman as it is on a man.
Yes, we’re pushing protein and sports on R. Nothing seems to help. I see him out with his friends, even in 2021! He’s playing in a very Covid-protocol’d soccer drill league…only drills, no games. He told me he was sad that he was grouped with younger kids instead of his friends (who are many inches taller). I said, “ah, that’s no big deal.” I thought: get used to it.
I try to make up for all this future horror with lots of love and fun and happiness and saved money. Sure. And I know, you’re going to tell me that R will make up for it with smarts or personality or having a cool job or God knows what. Sure, sure. But I still know it’s coming, and it kills me. It’s a very very slow-motion train wreck, or perhaps a slow observing of the polar ice caps receding.
What can I do? I already feel that I got the best from my parents, and somewhat squandered it. Now I also feel like I’m giving less to my kids. As if I’m just so great and deserve better than the generation before me or after me…well, I don’t.
Is this how Michael Corleone felt at the end of G2, staring at Lake Tahoe in the twilight, thinking about generations before him and generations after?