As time marches inevitably on, my kid seems to be asking me more and more questions about how things were when I was growing up. I guess for the most part, the questions are pretty innocent. They mostly run along the lines of “What were your friends like?”, “What was school like?”, “How was it growing up in Brooklyn?” and so on and so on. Most of you who are already parents probably already get the drift and for those of you who might be parents or guardians or have any kind of responsibility towards a young one, well, be prepared to answer.

It’s funny how such simple little questions can transport you back in time. The years just melt away and my eyes glaze over and a faraway look comes over me and I usually let out a sigh or two and let the memories come flooding back. Mostly, I only tell her the good ones and she runs away with a smile and maybe a dash of hope that things will be good for her too. That her little world won’t be tarnished with schoolyard skirmishes and insults and she won’t get picked on by her “friends” but as we all know deep down inside, that stuff is bound to happen sooner or later.

Well, later just got sooner.

It’s such a clever innocence
with which you do your sorcery
As if somehow the years just bow
and let that young girl go free
I thought I was a child
until you turned and smiled
I thought I knew where I was going
until I heard your laughter flowing
And came upon the wisdom in your eyes

For the past ten years or so things have been pretty much smooth sailing when it comes to my kid and me. Oh, there were bumps in the road here and there but that was bound to happen. In the end, she was always “Daddy’s little girl” and we’d iron out any differences we might have over ice cream cones and hugs. Anything bad was to put to bed and not brought up or used as ammunition against either of us. Yeah, the bad things weren’t deposited like money in the bank to be withdrawn and used when needed because they were already spent. Things were easy to explain and simple to understand.

And then along comes the onset of puberty to change all of that.

I guess she had what qualifies as a “bad week” at school. The people she thought were her friends were now “ditching” her and when I picked her up on Friday the tears were running out of her bloodshot eyes and left little trails that dribbled down her cheeks. I asked the teachers if anything special had happened during the day to cause all of this and they sort of smiled that Cheshire cat smile and looked at each other and then at me and said one word.


I’ve spent my whole life running ’round
Chasing songs from town to town
Thinking I’d be free so long
as I never let love slow me down
So lonely and so wild
until you turned and smiled
By now I should have long been gone
But here I am still looking on
As if I didn’t know which way to run

Oh God.

When I got her in the car I asked her what was wrong and got that old standby response, the one that’s tried and true and is used to deflect any kind of controversy or uncomfortable discussion that might ensue.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

I thought to myself, “Hmm, that might not be such a bad idea” but then the parent in me kicked in and it wasn’t long before I was pretty much being told to mind my own business, that she could handle her own problems and would I please butt out.

Nobody likes to see their kid in any kind of pain and I was telling her that if she didn’t tell me what was wrong, I couldn’t help her. It was then that my stories, those ones I told her about how things were when I was growing up, would come back to haunt me.

“You wouldn’t understand.”

”Try me.”


She then sorta ripped me a new one. I won’t get into too many details but suffice it to say that she went on about how perfect things were when I was growing and about how rotten they are for her and the emotion and intensity and the conviction in her voice made sit up and take notice.

My little girl is growing up.

It’s such a clever innocence
with which you show myself to me
As if you know how it feels
to never be who you wanted to be
I thought I was a child
until you turned and smiled
I thought that I was free
but I’m just one more prisoner of time
Alone within the boundaries of my mind
I thought I was a child

It looks like it’s going to take more than ice cream cones and hugs these days. Oh, I’m sure those things will come in handy every now and then (probably when she hits eighteen and this stage has passed) but for now, even though she’ll always be my darling little girl, I’m going to have to treat her more like an adult.

It looks like I have some growing up to do.

Lyrics to “I Thought I Was a Child” copyright Jackson Browne and released on the album “For Everyman” way back in 1973 – just when I was going through puberty.

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