How Old Is He?

Sometimes a conversation turns to my children. My daughter is comparatively easy, but my son is not. I used to say how old he is, and hope it would end there. When it didn’t, we entered into treacherous, uncharted territory.

We still might enter that territory, but these days we’ll take a different, less dangerous route. How old is he? I’m not giving you a number.

If I told you his age, you would have so many assumptions and misconceptions that we could easily spend the rest of our time correcting them. Let’s skip that part.

I don’t mean to be coy, but as I struggled to explain our unusual life, there are so many words you could intentionally or accidentally utter that would make me hate you, if only for a little bit. I’m trying to avoid that too.

You would likely be overwhelmed by the things he can’t do, and probably be unable to appreciate the things he can and does accomplish. Some of your questions would be predictable, others not. I would be unable to answer most of them to your satisfaction.

You might be curious about the drama, all the planned and unplanned trips to the doctor, his setbacks and victories, and what the future might hold. But I won’t burden you with our past, and none of us knows the future.

You would eventually be compelled to offer an unpredictable mix of sympathy and advice, almost all of it personally painful and infuriating. This is the part I’m most earnestly trying to avoid. My son isn’t a problem to be fixed, and I know you mean well, but…

Let’s just agree that he is far more exceptional than you or I will ever fully understand, and leave it at that.

Now, how about that weather we’ve been having?

You Were Raised in a Dumber Time

I hate to be the one to tell you, but you’ve had so many things trying to keep you stupid since the day you were born.

In the 1970’s, everyone was breathing in lead from gasoline because while it permanently damaged our brains, it made cars run a little quieter.

in the 1990’s, before the internet, you had almost no opportunity to learn about other countries other than to physically go there and try to learn. Rumors and stereotypes passed as wisdom.

Even in the early 2000’s, news only came from just a few sources. There were a handful of networks on TV, and only a few other news agencies in newspapers and on radio. And they were so horribly slow.

Even today, your high school education has giant chunks of history forgotten or whitewashed. You were lied to about the past more often than not.

Finally, every single one of us had parents or caregivers from an even simpler, dumber time who usually have or had decades to influence the very way we think about the world and the people in it.

All this makes it critical that you do everything in your power to be a better person and overcome your own biases and misconceptions, so the children you influence have just that much less bullshit to overcome.

So get busy getting better… and smarter.