The night before his seventh birthday, Jonah, my son, insisted on sleeping in our bed. “It’s my last night of being a little kid,” he explained. I indulged him.
Seven does seem to belong to a new category of kid-ness. He’s in the second half of first grade, itself a huge step on the journey through school. Seven is heading toward big-ness, maturity, comprehension, independence. It’s half fourteen, one-third the drinking age. It’s three less than ten.
Jonah has always had a mind of his own, but this mind of his is less and less bendable to parental will. He is becoming his own person—as he should—and his ideas and world view are increasingly his own. I love to get his perspective on things. I learn from him. I’m amused by him. I’m inspired by him.
This has been a heartbreaking week for me, a here’s-life-in-all-its-beauty-and-tragedy week. On one hand, the little guy turning seven, having a really great birthday party with adorable friends and wonderful parents, reminding us of why we bother with these parties in the first place. Afterwards, we were exhilarated and thankful for the lovely people in our lives. Today, at a party for his friend’s little brother, Jonah ran over to me, blood streaming down his chin, shouting excitedly that he’d lost his tooth. And then, after we cleaned him up, he ran back to the place where it had dropped and miraculously found it.
We’ve found ourselves in an amazing community of people who will step in if someone needs a ride to a birthday party or care for their kid for a few hours. It reaffirms my belief in goodness when sometimes there seems to be so little of it.
Sad things have happened this week: We lost the great Pete Seeger. And Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the finest actors of our time… what a tragic, unexpected, heartbreaking loss that was. And the letter by Dylan Farrow in The New York Times: a real shocker, wasn’t it?
As though these things in themselves weren’t devastating enough, I was saddened even more by many of the responses to them. Folks dismissing Pete Seeger as a communist. People throwing all sorts of judgment at PSH’s addiction. And so many trying Woody Allen in the all-knowing Court of Public Opinion. No doubt I’ll lose some Facebook friends for voicing my view of things. But the propensity of people to hurl accusations and judgments at people, often without the benefit of the facts, is something that makes my blood boil. Life can be cruel and unkind and nasty; must we revel in it by spewing unsupported nonsense, by feeding on mass hysteria?
I’d like to think we’re better than that. But sometimes, I have to wonder. The little guy is growing up. To many people, he’s far too big to be crawling into bed with us. But while I fail sometimes, I try to err on the side of kindness. So if he needs an extra snuggle now and then, who am I to judge?
Photos: Top: Party table; Bottom: Mask by Jonah