Gosh, I want that feeling again.
I want to live with the certainty — the complete conviction of a five year old. I want to have that unshakable belief in all things good. That if you do things good, only good things happen to you. I wish I didn’t have to grow up and learn about war and strife and hate and bigotry.
Yikes. Who woulda? thunk being a cranky, old white guy could be such hard work?
Thank goodness for young ones. They keep me from being too cranky, too old and too white.
* * *
I remember the day my innocence was lost — the beginning of my journey to oldness, whiteness and crankiness. It was on Wisconsin Street in Detroit — at Grandma Rush’s house. It was Christmas Day 1970 — my innocence was tainted at the hands of my older cousin, Shelia. That was the day cousin Shelia, older than my seven years by one, told me Santa was a fake, a sham and just something parents hold over their kids heads to keep said kids in line.
I wouldn’t say I was crushed, but it felt like some fat man had just dropped a big red sack of coal on me. I think my knees wobbled a little. Not that I would admit it, but I didn’t cry.
As only ‘true? believers can, I flatly rejected the concept then (as I do now), but a doorway to the darkness of adult hood was opened, if only a crack. Doubt crept in, my eyes were opened. Was the weight of the world in that sack?
After that, I tried to believe, but the kid magic was gone. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas was still fun, it just wasn’t as mystical. Listen to me . . . it wasn’t mystical. There’s nothing mystical about the virgin birth of the son of God. Pretty normal, right?
At any rate, you get the point, something was different from that day forward. I guess I grew up; and though I try to keep in touch with my inner child, sometimes I can still feel that red sack of coal on my back. Last week was one of those weeks.
Last week, following a tough bout with coughing, lack of sleep and an intestinal bug from somewhere south of the border (of which I will spare you the gory details), I was oh-so white, old and very cranky. I couldn’t stand being with me, so I am eternally grateful Jennie had the internal fortitude to stick around.
But, back to the lads — the kids saved me from myself.
It only took one little comment to make me smile and to remind me that I do believe in Santa. They reminded me there is still good and innocence in the world and I know where to find it — for all their whining, all their neediness, all their self-centeredness, children hold the key to happiness. Children, in my small world, come in blond-haired, blue-eyed packages commonly referred to as seven-year-old Shamus and five-year-old Sean.
While lying in bed feeling bad for myself, I heard them playing outside. I opened the window and secretly listened. Like most siblings, they play well together, but at times they pick on each other. Such was the case this day. Shamus was not being nice to Sean and that’s when Sean played the ultimate kid trump card to correct the situation. After I heard it, I ran to find a pen and piece of paper to write it down.
‘Shamus,? Sean said with all that five-year-old conviction I opined about earlier, ‘Santa is watching you. He sees all of us. Even me.?
Simple and to the point. Shamus had no recourse except to acquiesce to Sean’s demand and be nice. That was it. I started to feel better.
Some parents probably don’t believe it is good policy to fill kids? heads with the mystical and wonderful world of Santa (the Easter Bunny and or the Tooth Fairy). Some adults say it’s best just to let children experience life, warts and all, so they can be better prepared as adults.
Obviously, even though I am a cranky, old white guy, I don’t buy that. Let them kids be kids and dream magical dreams. Let them believe dreams can come true. I’m glad Shamus and Sean believe in Santa and I hope when they’re fathers that they’ll still believe.
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Gosh, I want that feeling again.