I constantly find myself marking time or making comparisons between my kids at a given age and what my life was like at that age. This is particularly the case with Linus, mostly because he is the oldest by four years, but also in some cases because he is a boy.
It sort of snuck up on me that Linus was in fourth grade. Well, that’s actually not quite right. What has struck me as I’ve been watching Linus go through fourth grade, and thinking about my own experience, is how much happened to me in fourth grade. Primary grades were for little kids, but fourth grade was the beginning of training to be a teenager. The milestones began piling up:
- First crush: Fourth grade.
- First viewing of WKRP in Cincinnati: Fourth grade.
- First fight: Fourth grade.
- First time my desk was placed directly beside the teacher’s desk (since third grade): Fourth grade.
- First time wearing glasses: Fourth grade.
- First time breaking glasses: Fourth grade.
- Second time breaking glasses: Fourth grade.
- First time realizing I was going to play Major League Baseball: Fourth grade.
- First defeat in a fight: Fourth grade
So, a lot happens in fourth grade. You can’t go through the crucible like that and come out the same little boy. Sooner or later, or already, Linus will travel these same roads, and at least some of the time, maybe most of the time, I’m going to be totally oblivious. Well, he has an eye appointment next week and I’m pretty much not oblivious to the fact that he’ll have glasses soon. But otherwise, who knows what happens to a boy when he’s on the loose?
What comes next isn’t a happy story, but when I remembered it happened to me when I was in fourth grade I had a hard time moving past it when I thought about Linus. Me and another friend were staying at a third friend’s house. We were pretty much the three amigos by that point, and spent a lot of time together. A bad domestic situation happened in the middle of the night, and there was a lot of chaos. More or less, an angry dude was in the house busting people up. I gained new perspective on emotions like anger and fear. A memorable night.
For some reason, the three of us hatched a plan to not tell our parents about the incident. I guess that’s just how we operated generally, but I know it was also something I was not eager to talk about so we just moved on. I did eventually tell my parents what happened, maybe a couple years after the fact.
And then I realized: It’s not the idea that Linus, at his age now, might go through a similar experience that’s freaking me out a little bit. It’s that he could go through something like that and I might not be able to tell.