Yesterday, Carter and I were driving from Waupun to Madison and saw a speck in the sky in the distance. We guessed it was a hot air balloon, but we couldn't gauge how far it was from us, so we weren't sure. We kept moving, constantly adjusting our visors to block the sun from our eyes. Abandoned corn crops stood limp and golden in perfect rows on both sides of the highway. As we drove, Carter asked if I saw the pictures shifting in the corn.
When I was a kid, my family went up north each weekend to visit my grandparents and hunt or snowmobile or fish or swim... I grew up in the backseat while my parents bobbed their heads to Classic Rock. I remember resting my head on the cool window, watching the sun cast shadows on the corn, and those shadows shifting in the rows as we moved. I remember trying to understand how the shadows in the straight rows could bend and make pictures. I wanted to ask, but I could never find the words to adequately describe what I was seeing.
So now, I was so excited-- Yes! I did see the pictures. Carter and I watched the shadows shift, and waited for the clouds to block the sun. And isn't that growing up? Isn't learning to pay attention what people do (or should be doing)? Isn't it amazing that a farmer can plant corn in such perfectly straight rows and that the sun can be shining in just the right way to create these shadows that move with us?
As we approached Sun Prairie, Carter spotted the hot air balloon first. It wasn't very high and was a lot smaller than I'd imagined it would be. Carter and I talked about how funny it is that when things are far away, it's hard to tell how big they really are. And I told him about the head-crusher.
When we got home, before bed, we watched the first 2 episodes of Kids in the Hall. After every clip, Carter said, "What?" and shook his head. He loved it. I'd told him in advance about the head-crusher, the 30 Helens, and the Chicken Lady, but nothing I could say would really have prepared him. It's something that needs to be seen.
Now, if you've seen Kids in the Hall, you know that some sketches can be a bit... iffy? for a kid. Each time I watch anything with Carter, I'm constantly questioning its level of appropriateness, which is tiring. And since K in the H is late 80's/early 90's, the taboos they exploit are a little less-taboo today, so it was trickier to know whether or not he understood why some of it was funny and not just crass. After watching the show, I had to ask myself-- is this what people mean by letting him grow up too fast? Am I encouraging him to grow up too fast when I turn on Kids in the Hall to illustrate a point?
Growing up, it seemed nobody's mind worked the way mine did. And while I read a lot, it was mostly books in R.L. Stein's Fear Street series. The people I understood best were on TV. The more random the show, the more OK I thought I was (I was a huge fan of You Can't Do That on Television and hated Full House). So I'm glad Carter talks to me about what he's thinking. And I'm glad to be the one who introduces him to Kids in the Hall. And I'm happy he's grown up enough to know not to repeat much of what he hears on Kids in the Hall to his friends at school or his grandma.
Do I let him grow up too fast when I say it's ok to ride his bike across town to a friend's house or to get ice cream? Is he growing up too fast if he takes the city bus downtown for guitar lessons or sailing camp? The truth is, I swear I had a baby only 3 years ago, and now he's 13. In 2 years, he'll be 20. Kids grow up fast, no matter how much other people tell you not to let them, because they are people, just like the rest of us. Only rocks and dead things don't grow.