Grown-up Kids

August 12, 2012 — Leave a comment

Sometimes Mtuseni drives me nuts… The cranky, sullen moods. The frustrating pushbacks as he lurches toward independence. The half-baked, way-off-the-mark (but still forming) opinions. The knuckleheaded decisions and forgetfulness that have been codified as a biological reality in late-teen males. Sometimes I just want to throw up my hands and take a break.

But then yesterday I went to a farmer’s market in one of Boston’s tonier suburbs. And among the colorful stands filled with just-picked peaches, super-sweet corn, pea tendrils and squash blossoms… were packs of small children in their J. Crew sundresses and tiny Tevas. They ricocheted like screaming electrons through the common as some dorky folksinger gamely played his ukulele to entertain them. A few just cried angrily and miserably… because there always has to be some of those kids at any public gathering.

The kicker was when a boy in front of me poked his finger into $4 a pound heirloom tomatoes while his supposedly evolved mom just watched… because American kids today are never wrong and never hear the word “no.” And because the boy’s intellectual curiosity about the cellular integrity of produce (or perhaps simply his desire to destroy things) has as much validity as my desire to buy glorious farm-fresh summer tomatoes in one piece.

Carrying my bags to the car, I looked back teen-in-South-Africa-settlementas the ragamuffins ran ragged. And life with Mtuseni didn’t seem that bad after all. Because despite the stuff that makes me crazy, he’ll tell me about an “awesome day” learning how to use formulas in Excel. And praise John Legend not only for his musical talent but also because he “knows how to look after himself as a brand.” And because he can still say “I love you” when we sign off a text chat and he goes to sleep in his unheated shack.

Yep, I’ll take my grown-up kid any day.

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