“Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself.” – Tom Wilson
"Shotgun!" my son screams joyfully as he jumps into the front seat of my red Honda Accord.
I smile and let him sit in the front seat as the back is taken up with his brother, his brothers car seat and several large boxes. He is old enough and tall enough to sit in the front. It is a rare occurrence and I know he finds it to be a special treat. I let it go considering I have no other options.
I start the car and begin to wind my way through the university campus towards the main road. I am caught up musing over the programs that my children are exposed to since their magnet school resides on the grounds of a large college campus. I am about to ask my son about his music instruction (thank you Hartt School of Music, also on the campus) when he interrupts my thoughts.
"My friend John is adopted" reports my ten year old son, Nikolas.
"Oh?" I respond.
"Yeah, he told me today but I could have guessed that even if he had not told me." he continued.
"Why is that?" I ask. "Is he a different race than his parents? Korean? Chinese or something?" I inquire.
"No. He is white like me but his parents are OLD!" my son exclaimed.
"Huh? Why does that make you think he was adopted?" I asked.
"Well, I guess it doesn’t mean he is adopted but it seems weird to me to have parents that could be your grandparents. I talked to John and he told me his parents waited too long to have babies and that made them old" my son explains.
I swallow hard.
"So, you are saying waiting too long to have babies made them old?" I asked. I knew what he meant but I wanted him to think through a bit what he was suggesting.
"No, no. I mean, well, kinda. John said they tried to have their own REAL kids for a long time. But then they decided to adopt him instead" he explains.
I am momentarily struck by the "own, REAL" kids statement. I have never said such things and I am curious (fascinated maybe) that my son and his friend somehow realize that adoptive parents often want their "own, real", biological kids first and they adopt as a second choice. How far did he go in that thought process?
"You know, technically, I am an old Mom" I inform my son.
"I gave birth to you when I was 31. And your brother when I was almost 36. Your brother has friends who have mothers that are in their mid- twenties. I am like the crypt-keeper compared to them."
"Well, yeah, but Ma, Johns’ parents LOOK ancient. White and grey hair… and they act old. Like Mr. Burns on the Simpsons. They are OLD. Even John says so. And you, well, you are a cool mom. All my friends say so. And you might be an old mom to me but you had sister when you were young." he says as he smiles at me. His honey colored eyes appear yellow due to the sunlight shining upon them.
I smile. Somehow his logic makes sense to him.
"Well, age doesn’t really have anything to do with adopting a child. That was kind of my point" I inform him.
"But sisters parents are old too, right? Aren’t they as old as Grampa and Gramma?" he asks
"Well, yeah, kinda. They are a few years younger. But yes, they are close in age to Grampa Jack and Gramma Ronnie" I say.
"So, see only old people adopt. They wait too long to have their own kids so they get old and then take someone else’s kids." he insists.
"No, honey, that is not true. " I state as I turn left into a Starbucks parking lot and ponder how I am going to explain this.
I wonder if this adoption talk with his friend John started after he brought his sister to school that day. What did he say to his friends? Internally I am pleased he is so open and discussing this stuff but my own feelings and confusion are colliding with his and I am struggling to respond in a way that a mother NOT torched by adoption would be able to. Do I get into a discussion of infertility with a ten year old boy? Should I just drop it for now and revisit if it comes up again?
(I ordered a quad venti caramel macchiotto and dropped it.)