June 19, 2013
Written by Joe Pisani
Monday, 26 July 2010 11:40
An educator at a private school in Manhattan recently told me that by third grade, our personalities are pretty much formed, which is probably why I still enjoy making noises at the dinner table like an elephant passing gas, not to mention throwing eggs at my neighbors on mischief night.
As Wordsworth said, “The child is father of the man.”
Is it possible that as adults we’re the same emotionally and psychologically as we were as youngsters? That we have the same personality traits and idiosyncrasies?
Is that why I knock my daughters down to get to the front of the food line at family picnics? Is that why I prefer a Happy Meal to paté? Is that why I still see the world as a fearful place?
One of my daughters is 30 and acts like a third-grader; another daughter acted 30 in the third grade. Go figure.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. During the school concert, my third-grade teacher, Miss Tortora, told me to lip-sync when the class sang Oh Shenandoah because I had a tin ear and was throwing everyone off key.
That humbling experience didn’t dampen my musical aspirations. As a teenager, I wanted to be the first Italian Bob Dylan, and I’d strum my guitar and howl The Times, They Are a-Changin’ like a dog with its tail caught in the door. As an adult, I sing hymns at Sunday Mass, but little old ladies turn and sneer, as if to say, “Didn’t Miss Tortora tell you to shut up?”
Back in Little League, I had trouble catching fly balls, and I still have trouble judging where they’ll land until they hit me in the head. Even worse, I lost my grammar school sweetheart to a kid whose father was a lawyer who drove a Mercedes (mine drove a beat-up Ford van), so I have problems with girls who date lawyers who drive Mercedes.
Can we ever escape those formative years? This is what philosophers call “determinism.” Children of alcoholics become alcoholics. Children of atheists become atheists. Children of worriers become worriers.
Many of my friends, from rich families and poor, are haunted by painful childhoods and lingering emotions that debilitate them as adults.
Nevertheless, I believe we’re capable of change. We had five TVs in my home, and I loved watching The Flintstones and My Three Sons, but now, I don’t even own a television. While I was growing up, our home was often abusive, but now there’s only peace and love — except for the time my wife threw a copy of Crime and Punishment at me. (She missed.)
In third grade, I was fearful about life. Back then, I had a lot of anxiety. Now, I have fewer anxieties and more hopes. When I see my nieces and nephews, those hopes come alive because I want the world to be a better place for them; and in my dreams, it can be.
I guess that’s the fourth-grader in me.
|< Prev||Next >|
The requested URL /components/com_nklf/tent.php was not found on this server.