Childhood’s End

With apologies to the spirit of  Arthur C. Clarke, who knew a good title when he wrote it, my topic is thoughts on the transition to adulthood.

I recall the sensation, when I was very young, of being surprised at a lot of things.  This happened.  That happened.  Surprise.  Who knew?  Then, at some point in my late teens or twenties, I recall a Eureka Moment when I realized that I was being surprised because I didn’t see far enough into the future.  I hadn’t considered the repercussions of my actions or foreseen the impact of somebody else’s actions.  I recall considering this a personal failing that could be addressed.  Then there was a period of time where I was still being surprised but was conscious that I should have probably expected that.  My sensitivity to the future increased.  And as time went by that sensitivity to the future became second nature.  I think we call that maturity.  Nothing surprises me these days.  Whoops, I think we might call that a tad cynical.

In recent years science has found that children really do need eight hours or more of sleep for good mental development.  Science has also discovered that the brains of young people function differently than those of us older folks.  At what point the transition happens is not clear.  I’ve been thinking about both of these findings since we have a college age son back with us – off and on – for the Christmas break.

One wants to be kind.  One wants to be supportive.  One wants to provide what guidance one can.  But the student will find the master when he or she is good and ready and not before.  That is somewhat frustrating for the master who fidgets as the student does dumb things and does not appear to be learning from experience.  We call that parenthood.

Still, when I think about all the problems in the world, I guess I appreciate that young people are blissfully unaware of things that will come to dominate their thoughts and lives as time goes by.   The Eureka Moment is probably Childhood’s End.

Meanwhile, Happy Holidays to all!

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