The wisdom of the sitcom series "The Wonder Years," now streaming on Netflix for my
procrastination enjoyment, is the parallel between the main character Kevin Arnold's coming-of-age and the U.S. as a young nation navigating some tumultuous times.
If this were a literary essay, I would generously bandy about the words bildungsroman and juxtapose so that I sound very proffy indeed.
But this is not for a grade.
As I rewatch Kevin Arnold fumble as an adolescent, scored by his retrospective as an adult, I see how the opposite is mostly true for me. I was not a young person who stammered or who minced words. I look back at my younger life and I regret more the things I said than the things left unspoken. As Jane Austen writes in Sense and Sensibility (This is not a literary essay? Surrrre, Kennndra.), I didn't know how to govern my tongue. I was blunt and often biting. I thought sarcasm was a high shelf brand of humor, rather than the lowest form.
There was one time in high school, in particular, when there was a boy who was interested in me, and let's be honest, I think he was interested in getting some action, which--c'mon. Barking up the wrong tree, bro.
He dropped me off after taking me to a horror film (1-800-CLICHE) and I think he was expecting something from me. So, I said. "Yeah, I think I'm gonna go inside because I just put flannel sheets on my bed."
Which to him probably meant, Oh, you guys, I can't even imagine.
But I was just over here, YAAAY, I'll be warm and toasty in my flannels all night long!
That relationship sort of fizzled a couple weeks later. What I congratulate myself for that time was a resolve to just be true to myself.
This has not been the problem, however. Being true to who I am has not been my struggle. It is more the words that I have used to convey the truths that have been so troubling. There are so many words I wish I could catch with a butterfly net and cast back into the ocean. I trust that my God can do the work I am not able to do....
Take a wild guess --who am I? ***
Yesterday Baby Girl and I were talking to one of the high schoolers who works at the gym. After the high school gal passed, Baby Girl implored, "Mama? I notice some spots on her face. Why are they still there?" I asked if she meant freckles. "No, they're red." Ah. Those are called zits, I explained, and I said that sometimes people's skin gets them but then they go away.
That was probably a poor explanation. Seriously, it was all I could do not to say, OH honey. Mommy's skin is still an oilspill in her twirties. Do you SEE this? But one thing struck me. My girl asked me privately as to the blemishes of another. There was so much wisdom in that moment and I wanted to place my girl on a conveyer belt headed toward adulthood and say, Just stay on this track of judicious and well-timed words, my sweet one. And just step to the right if others need to get by.
But she's still has a few wonder years ahead of her to figure all that out. I just pray that those who stand in front of her continue to keep her on track. And I pray that she'll allow herself to look back every now and again from whence she came.