Honoring Age 10
How one Jewish grandmother helped her grandson ease through the huge milestone of turning double digits.
by Lois Greene Stone
Note: The essay below, written by a 614 contributor, is not part of Ritualwell’s website content.
“Grandma,” Kevin whispered to me, “can I talk to you about my birthday?”
I hugged the boy who would be turning ten in two weeks. From very early on, he had shown himself to be caring and sensitive, so I didn’t think he wanted to talk about a party or a present.
“Always. You know by now there’s not a thing we can’t say to one another, and your privacy is respected. Right?”
He nodded. Our ‘secrets’ are really secrets.
“Well, I’ve been dreaming about being ten,” Kevin began; then he got quiet.
I smiled. “Tell me about your dreams.” I moved closer to him.
“I’m concerned about more responsibility, Grandma.” Kevin’s face was serious.
My first thought, actually, was for his word choice – using ‘concerned’ rather than a simple synonym – but I guess that’s the English teacher in me. Then I processed his feelings.
“I’ve been alive for ten whole years!” Kevin emphasized the word ‘whole.’
Was he suddenly grasping the concept of time, I wondered? Was he actually able to comprehend that life is a limited commodity? That, I truly doubted. “Isn’t that wonderful,” I exclaimed. “Ten whole years, and there is so much ahead of you, Kevin; and life and learning are so extraordinary. Being ten is almost a pre-teen, so you are shedding the little boy. That’s super.” I sounded excited, and was glad I’d taken so many acting classes in college. I understood now the brevity of life; he didn’t. “If my life wasn’t so blessed with so many years, I would have missed all this with you. Isn’t life amazing?”
Kevin moved his head a bit, neither agreeing nor disagreeing. “I’m tall enough for most amusement park rides.”
He didn’t seem particularly pleased with this fact. Perhaps when he was shorter, he was spared the humiliation of saying a ride was too scary and he didn’t want to go on it. In a similar fashion, I liked co-ed curfew in college, as I wanted to be in the dorm by 10:30 every night, and was therefore spared from defending my need for sleep. Was there a parallel between my curfew way back when and his height re: amusement parks now? Is this why he didn’t seem excited?
“You’re also tall enough to select which rides you actually prefer and not just the ones because your head fits a certain line. Being more grown up means you have choices now.”
He seemed to think about that statement. Aloud he said “double digits,” and I heard myself once utter the same thing, as did my own three children. It wasn’t my grandson’s voice I was hearing, but rather a composite of mine and my offspring.
“Let’s do something different to send off age nine. Let’s get nine balloons,” I almost giggled at the visual of what I was proposing, “and release them at the same time, and watch them fly upward and away. What do you think? A real farewell to single digits forever.”
Kevin began to grin; then his face formed a full smile. I took his hand and gently squeezed.
About the Author
Lois Greene Stone, writer and poet, has been syndicated worldwide. Her poetry and personal essays have been included in hardcover and paperback book anthologies. Collections of her personal items, photos, and memorabilia can be found in major museums, including 12 different divisions of the Smithsonian.