Magazine article The Christian Century

Moving On

Magazine article The Christian Century

Moving On

Article excerpt

WE ARE LIVING, as Adam said to Eve, in a time of transition. Our son John graduated from high school and turned 18 on the same day. His brother, Andy, turned ten on the day of John's senior prom. The boys are turning comers, and their parents are turning, well, a bit dog-eared at the edges.

Here's how we marked the transitions. We celebrated Andy's birthday in advance so that John could be on hand, with a day of mini-golf and bumper boats in the park. Andy got a volcano kit for reenacting Pompeii, a hit-away kit for improving his batting, a Pokemon game with cheat codes for conquering the world, a yo-yo for maintaining his cosmic alignment and one significant disappointment: though we already had the tickets, we decided not to let him see the new Star Wars movie. The film review Web site Screenit.com--a great boon to parents--warned us that there would be scenes like [his one: "Cut down to just a torso with one mechanical arm, Anakin catches on fire on the bank of a lava river. He becomes completely engulfed in flames and screams in pain/terror until we see just a burned/charred/smoking torso lying there." Enough said. If only we hadn't promised it as a special birthday treat. If only it weren't so extensively marketed to children. If only the other parents shared our trepidations. Still, we felt we had to draw the line.

The night of the prom, we gathered with other families in the park outside the school, took pictures of John and his friends in their rented tuxes and marveled at the stretch limos and the baroquely coiffed girls in their strapless black and pink gowns, with their baubles, braids, ruffles and flounces arranged just so, wobbling atop impossibly spiky Cinderella-lucite evening sandals. Andy asked, "Is this a circus?"

No curfew tonight, we told John, gulping, dutifully observing parental "best practices" for the occasion. After the prom, go ahead and hang out with your buddies as long as you like. My high school senior class didn't have a prom, but we did ride the Staten Island ferry back and forth all night, and something of the sort seems de rigueur. At midnight, however, John came home, reporting that the prom was "fun, but boring," and that he and his friends were kind of tired anyway.

Andy surprised us, too. Instead of fussing about the Star Wars movie, he went up to his room and began making light sabers out of modeling clay, acting out the plot as he learned it from his friends. He pronounced himself quite content, even relieved, that he wouldn't be spending his birthday watching gory scenes on the big screen. We watched an Andy Griffith rerun instead, basking in the feeling of family togetherness and acutely aware that it won't be quite like this next year. …

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