Ten Year Old Processing

“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.)

5 Thoughts.

  1. My parents were OLD, grey hair and all when they adopted me. It was not easy to hear the constant comments. Hearing kids say “Gee, your parents are old!” got old….quick.
    I’ll tell you something else that really sucks; taking care of elderly parents at my age. Instead of going out to lunch with my mom I am visiting my mom who IS out to lunch. Gratitude aside for a moment (eeekkkk) I can honestly say it is challenging at best to have parents you cannot relate to and who cannot relate to you due to a significant generational gap. Something people really should consider when adopting an infant late in life.

  2. complicated indeed to be navigating that tricky conversation with all the necessarily complex feelings you have. i’d say you’re doing a pretty great job.

  3. Well, I think Nikolas kind of nailed it, although “waiting too long” isn’t exactly how I’d describe our jaunt through infertility-land, LOL.
    But he is right all the same. I’ve given up trying to understand what drove us to almost six years of insane treatment. So many facets – the seductiveness of the repro endo promises of succes, the need to control your own body, selfishness, maybe even a primeval need to procreate. I’ll never know.
    All I know is that many of my a-parent friends were in the same age group as we were (40ish) when they adopted, so we qualified as old to be sure, although we’ve done all we can to close that generation gap.
    As to whether or not to bring it up again – my guess is he’ll do that for you, and if the conversation comes close to infertility why not talk about it with him?

  4. Nice boy you have there Suz! lol It’s funny how children break things apart. Old, you tell that little freckled face not to turn my feelings against him, after falling in love with that face and wanting to smush him with kisses! lol
    Gotta listen what comes from the mouth of babes, only the truth comes out, so listen good, I’m sure there are plenty of other things that are going to come flying out of his mind. Plus, are you going to have your hands full when the character gets a bit older, ol lordy, lord – I can just imagine what he’ll come out with! lol
    Nowadays, couples are waiting till well into their 40’s to have children – so this will all become the norm then.
    I think it’s best to just let it go for now, he’ll asks again. Your a great Mom honey you’ll know exactly what to say and how to explain it that he’ll understand it.
    Mo xoxo (OLD!!!)

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