By Ernie Fowler – Nashville CHSD #99
Kids have a unique way of looking at the world. A big topic of conversation for my seven year old is age. I’ve noticed when he meets other kids for the first time; he often doesn’t start the conversation by introducing himself by name. He typically begins with “I’m seven”. He states his age like a badge of honor. In his mind the higher the number, the more prestige one has. Somewhere down the line kids don’t focus so much on the number thing. I haven’t heard many of our high school students begin a conversation with “I’m 17”. As an adult, I don’t go to a meeting and walk up to a fellow Superintendent and say “I’m 55”. My little one is often fascinated by my age. He clarified for me…..”You are five tens and five ones. I am seven ones”.
Recently, a certain person in my office turned four tens. She always reminds me that I am one ten and five ones older than her. That makes me the old man. I have to say, she didn’t let this particular birthday bother her. I remembered back to when I turned 40. For some reason, that milestone weighed on me. In my mind being a forty something was a lot older than being a thirty something. When I turned 50, I didn’t seem to mind. I guess if I saw myself as “old” at 40, what is ten more years! I also didn’t mind turning 30. For some reason, I was looking forward to being 35 because it opened the door for another job option. I legally could become President Fowler.
High school students look forward to turning 16. That particular age brings freedom as a blue slip turns into a driver’s license. Mom and Dad no longer have to be the driver for the kid to get to practices and other places. When my two boys turned 16, I realized that I traded one stress for another. The good news, I was free of arranging my schedule to fit theirs. The bad news, they were free of me keeping an eye on them as to where they were going and how quickly they would get there. While there was stress in being their chauffeur, there seemed to be more stress in worrying about how they were driving once they left the drive way. Sure enough, one night I got the call that one of the kids put their truck in a ditch due to some idiotic driving decision. My heart raced with worry as I thought about their possible injuries. Once I found out they were fine, my blood pressure shot up to near stroke level over the stupidity they showed in putting the truck in a ditch.
I’ll have a few more years before I have that kind of worry again. My seven year old has already asked me when he can get a car and how I intend to pay for it. I told him not to fret. We will discuss it when I’m six tens and four ones!