Friday, March 12, 2010

Time Marches On

The other day while driving, I heard the song Time Marches On, by Tracy Lawrence. This song immediately brought two things to mind, my aunt Lacey, and my childhood, which really go hand-in-hand as I cannot imagine most of my childhood without her. Being the youngest of my mother's thirteen siblings meant that only a handful of years separated my aunt and I.
She was the one I would go to for all advice on the ways of the world. If Lacey was wearing it, I had to have it, because obviously it was very hip and trendy, much like my aunt Lacey. This explains my brief love affair with Abercrombie and Fitch, which you wouldn't catch me dead in now. She also introduced me to my years of devotion to Lauren Hill and the Fugees, which at first I just powered through while bobbing my head and pretending to vibe, but then realized they were quite soulful as well as slightly bad-ass, for me anyway. Ah and the good old country classics, one song in particular that pulled on both our heartstrings: What Mattered Most, by Ty Herndon. Remember that Lace? Her eyes were blue, her hair was long, sixty-four she was born in Baton Rouge... Still today, I can recall the lyrics, because of the days spent belting them out (most likely teary-eyed from the angst of it all) in her bedroom.
I've been thinking about my childhood a lot lately, not that it's so far gone, but it sometimes feels that way. Those days of babysitting for my Aunt Rhonda and discovering my love of late night TV. No, not SNL, but I Love Lucy, always a grandma at heart. I mean, my mom told me absolutely NO SNL as there was adult material featured and I listened, even if she wasn't around to catch me.
It became apparent to me in college, that due to me diligent pastime of babysitting/following of the rules in my christian household that I really was out of the loop on a lot of things. While most people in high school were perhaps partying, drinking, making out with their boyfriends, I passed my time reading, playing kick the can with my siblings and having slumber parties with my posse of church-going friends. Sure we played drinking games... okay with water, (booze would have never even entered our minds) the point being: let's see how much water we can chug until one of us pees our pants. It wasn't me, I am proud to say! But the hilarity that ensued when someone beelined for the bathroom hunched over in pain, was well worth the gallons of water we downed for sport.
You could call my adolescence nerdy, sure, but looking back on the fact that I was probably the poster child for D.A.R.E and couldn't fathom any reason why people would want to harm their bodies or their minds with drugs and alcohol, I did what most parents want their children to grow up doing. I watched Nick at Nite religiously, played games like freeze tag with the neighborhood kids, and abstained from sex and drugs.
Some may argue that it's a stretch for most kids in this world to grow to the age of 18 and celebrate New Years Eve with sparkling grape juice and The Princess Bride, but my parents proved it's possible. In fact I think they'd say wonderful.
The other day I got my roommate to watch one of my all-time favorite movies, The Long, Long Trailer, starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. While this dreamy look came over my face bringing me back to all the times I reached ecstasy at seeing it on TV, I told her about how much I adored it as a child. And she responded, "Wow, were our childhoods different!"
Yes, it's true, that some teenagers will push the envelope on what they can get away with, others extent of rebellion (mine) might've been sneaking out to the railroad tracks with their childhood crush, Joel, and smoking one of his dad's cigars only to dash home, snarf down some pretzels to cover the smell of Swisher Sweets and take a long soapy shower to ensure the parentals wouldn't know about such a dastardly deed.
I suppose it might seem weird and maybe not what most parents expect of their teens, but I think they should. What's the harm in dragging out your childhood a little longer, curling up watching G rated programming with your mom, giggling into the night after stuffing your bra into your best friends freezer on a dare and then forgetting it the next day when you leave, only for her dad to find it.
I can't say I regret a moment of the way I was raised, playing Friday Night at 8o'clock (only my family could probably understand the lure and magic of this game) or watching Wee sing in Sillyville, which Lacey and I definitely watched well into our teens, and just being a kid.
We grow up much faster than we expect and one day we miss that innocence, that magic of waiting to hear sleigh bells, and being entertained with climbing trees and pretending to be the Boxcar children. I think every child, young and old, should stretch that time of innocence, because even if you spend 18 years being a child, you'll likely spend 60 or more being an adult. And you'll be wishing you were again so lithe and limber to run endless yards of cool summer grass and oh-so-naive about what sex really entails, pressing your Barbies together making kissy noises. To quote Peter Pan:
Wendy: My parents wanted me to grow up.
Captain Hook: Growing up is such a barbarous business, full of inconvenience... and pimples.
Those of you who still collect Babysitter's Club books because they bring you back to your youth, get immense joy from hide and go seek with five year olds, or perform song and dance routines in your bedroom with hairbrushes as your microphone, well to put it simply, I commend you Peter Pans. And even the Wendy's of the world, who knew eventually they had to grow up, well, who could forget that childhood time of enchantment anyway? It never leaves us. Lucy will always find a place in my heart, much like Peter Pan in Wendy's.

Time marches on indeed...

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