Contemplating kids

Someday too-soon he will be able to have the engine running.Age begins to be an important thought-subject when you start running out of fingers to count the decades. It is easy to look at young folks and say, sometimes in the same breath, they are the future of our existence and they don’t know a darned thing.

It is easy, when you’re young, to gauge the age of old people. Unfortunately, eyeball measuring becomes increasingly difficult with age, and the old folks one meets increasingly resemble the fellow you greeted in the morning mirror.

One afternoon a few years back, I met a young person on a street corner in town trying to get passers-by to drop money in her cup. She was raising money for the marching band the school board had cut from the school budget.

“Band is the only thing I know,” the 17-year-old explained.

I agreed losing band was a terrible thing – I still believe that – but I did not make a friend when I suggested she would learn more things when she got some years on her. It’s funny how age makes us forget how smart we were when we didn’t have its experience.

Then one day, I discovered being born in 1980 suddenly means being 40 years old. Those “kids” have become the adults I have often noted would be stuck with cleaning up the world in which we “adults” have left a broken thermostat and foggy windows.

Seemingly over the weekend, they have become older than I was when I lay beneath the stars on a golf course with a young woman and made promises her cancer did not allow me to keep. By the time I was 40, I had been three years retired from a career in the U.S. Navy.

For those who remember at least reading about a party called “Woodstock,” here’s a thought: The young folks who frolicked naked in the mud left the party to become doctors, lawyers and bankers against whom they had rebelled. (By the way, it turns out there were, indeed, thousands of young folks in attendance, though not nearly as many unclothed as the media claimed.)

Lest readers suspect me of being morbid in this walk among my earlier calendars, I assure all I have no expectation of shortly departing from this planet. A question did, however, occur to me on a recent evening how old must we be to make an imprint on the future of humankind?

More than two centuries ago, a gathering of (mostly) what now would be called Millennials gathered to write down some rules that would, they hoped, bind 13 individual countries into a single bundle labeled the “United” States of America. The various states appointed among themselves 55 members to that first Constitutional Convention, The members’ average age was 44; a few were barely 20, a few others were in their 60s. Ben Franklin was 86 and had to be carried into the meeting room.

The document they created “in order to form a more perfect union” has lasted 233 years. Not bad for a bunch of kids.

The nice thing about young people is they do not, as a group, realize they cannot, create a whole nation out of about four million strangers who were not even in agreement with separating from the King of England in the first place.

One recent morning, I looked across the restaurant in which a few of us seniors sat talking about the “Battle off Samar” (It’s an interesting story; look it up). The young fellow and his spouse sat with their daughters for breakfast. From the look of them, the world will be in good hands.

Age begins to be an important thought-subject when you start running out of fingers to count the decades. It is easy to look at young folks and say, sometimes in the same breath, they are the future of our existence and they don’t know a darned thing.

It is easy, when you’re young, to gauge the age of old people. Unfortunately, eyeball measuring becomes increasingly difficult with age, and the old folks one meets increasingly resemble the fellow you greeted in the morning mirror.

One afternoon a few years back, I met a young person on a street corner in town trying to get passers-by to drop money in her cup. She was raising money for the marching band the school board had cut from the school budget.

“Band is the only thing I know,” the 17-year-old explained.

I agreed losing band was a terrible thing – I still believe that – but I did not make a friend when I suggested she would learn more things when she got some years on her. It’s funny how age makes us forget how smart we were when we didn’t have its experience.

Then one day, I discovered being born in 1980 suddenly means being 40 years old. Those “kids” have become the adults I have often noted would be stuck with cleaning up the world in which we “adults” have left a broken thermostat and foggy windows.

Seemingly over the weekend, they have become older than I was when I lay beneath the stars on a golf course with a young woman and made promises her cancer did not allow me to keep. By the time I was 40, I had been three years retired from a career in the U.S. Navy.

For those who remember at least reading about a party called “Woodstock,” here’s a thought: The young folks who frolicked naked in the mud left the party to become doctors, lawyers and bankers against whom they had rebelled. (By the way, it turns out there were, indeed, thousands of young folks in attendance, though not nearly as many unclothed as the media claimed.)

Lest readers suspect me of being morbid in this walk among my earlier calendars, I assure all I have no expectation of shortly departing from this planet. A question did, however, occur to me on a recent evening how old must we be to make an imprint on the future of humankind?

More than two centuries ago, a gathering of (mostly) what now would be called Millennials gathered to write down some rules that would, they hoped, bind 13 individual countries into a single bundle labeled the “United” States of America. The various states appointed among themselves 55 members to that first Constitutional Convention, The members’ average age was 44; a few were barely 20, a few others were in their 60s. Ben Franklin was 86 and had to be carried into the meeting room.

The document they created “in order to form a more perfect union” has lasted 233 years. Not bad for a bunch of kids.

The nice thing about young people is they do not, as a group, realize they cannot, create a whole nation out of about four million strangers who were not even in agreement with separating from the King of England in the first place.

One recent morning, I looked across the restaurant in which a few of us seniors sat talking about the “Battle off Samar” (It’s an interesting story; look it up). The young fellow and his spouse sat with their daughters for breakfast. From the look of them, the world will be in good hands.

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