When is life over?


Hey, it was heartening to write a post yesterday, meager though it was, and have three of you write responses within two hours. Thanks, guys!

There is a great deal of discussion in medical science as to precisely when life is over, but I’d like to come at the subject from a somewhat different angle.

My son Bobby is a sixth grader, which means that he has left elementary school behind and is five months into the whole middle school experience.  Oftentimes he hates it, but sometimes he likes it, and it all comes down to his interaction with his peer group.  (Does anyone remember junior high school as a happy time?)

A big part of the middle school experience is a preoccupation with appearance that seems to have suddenly taken possession of my son.  The kid who had to be harassed by his parents to give some thought to how he looked in the morning when he walked out the door now is thinking about this very thing in great detail before he goes to bed at night.

Evidently “geekdom” is a fate worse than death.  Given a choice, my son will choose freezing over appearing geekish every time.  For much of this strange winter, the possibility of freezing hasn’t been much of a concern, but recently the weather has remembered what winter is supposed to feel like.

The winter coats lying around our house apparently are all made from 100% geek material, so up until now a sweat shirt was all we could get on Bobby before he left the house.  Presently there are three sweatshirts sitting in his locker at school helping his locker stay warm.

So with the recent plummeting of temperature I figured it was time to take a fatherly stand: “You’re not going anywhere without a winter coat on.”  This, of course, brought weeping and wailing regarding the incredible injustice of my decree.  And then came the clincher, to which this whole blog post has been leading up to:  “Dad, just because your life is over doesn’t mean mine has to be!  Please, don’t force me to look like a geek!”

I guess its all a matter of perspective.  I like to think that I’m living the best years of my life, and that my son’s middle school bondage is cause for sympathy.  But from his point of view, if you don’t have a shot left at being considered cool in middle school, your life is pretty much over.

This leads me to hypothesize someone farther down the road of life than myself, (someone older, wiser, closer to full sanctification), looking at some of my present preoccupations with a similar sort of bewilderment as I look at my son’s preoccupations.

After his soccer practice last night, I took Bobby to Marshall’s where he picked out a winter coat that he actually thought looked cool and promised he would actually wear.  (The price was greatly reduced, since the winter coat marketers probably think that most people who were going to buy their products would have done so well before now.) Bobby actually thanked me for it.  It felt like a minor parenting victory, the sort of thing that leads me to feel like maybe my life isn’t over — that there are some achievable satisfactions yet worth living for.


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