A sad conversation

Sunday night I was chatting with Sam on the sofa. He was having those oh-so-familiar-to-me Sunday night blues, dreading piano lessons (he hadn't practiced much) and homework and saying goodbye to the weekend. 

We talked for a while and then lapsed into silence for a few moments.

"Is there anything else bothering you? You still seem pretty upset."

Silence, a shrug.

"Anything at school you want to talk about? Or with friends?"

Silence, an exhale, his eyes shifted to mine.  "I guess it's just... [pause]...I mean...[pause]... Halloween just doesn't feel as fun as it used to be. We used to have so much fun" [chin quiver].

Being 12 is hard, that cusp between childhood and teenhood. The magic of childhood kind of leaves you in the dust, wondering where it all went. I remember being about his age and feeling like things didn't quite live up to my memories and expectations anymore. I felt bereft.

Add to that, being the youngest child is also difficult--everyone moves on to their next thing and leaves you wishing for more of what you long for: childhood, family time, games running around outside, skeletons and ghosts and decorations, the more the better.  Instead, he watches his sisters come home from school+activities and head for the books, the computer, the phone. No wonder!  (Also: Sorry, Chris, my youngest brother. It must have been hard for you, too.)

My heart broke a little for Sam. The lack of Halloween decorations (we do have a pumpkin on the porch! One!) symbolizes how much we've forgotten in the rush of school routines: the fun! the silliness! We used to have so much fun was a really good reminder (or indictment?) that our whole life doesn't have to be about leaf projects and college applications and work/school/obligations. There's the basic joy of living life, too.  I know this but I wasn't doing it.

Sorry, buddy. Now where did I put those black crows and skeletons?

. . .

Do you remember a time when some of the shine went out of things? What do you think about how birth order affects the kind of (length of) childhood someone experiences?