January 04, 2017My dad was right.
I couldn't see it then because I was hyper-focused on "becoming an adult" and on all of the perks associated therewith. Staying up late. Doing as you please. Stopping off for a cocktail with friends. Being out from under the thumb of parental control.
I was a kid who wished time away. Dad used to tell me to be patient and enjoy exactly where I was at, because soon enough it would all go by so quickly.
Yah. Right. I felt like a little grown-up in 12-year-old skin. I was thirsty for real life adventure; to test my all-knowing bravado in the adult world. Freedom was calling, loud and clear.
I couldn't wait to be 16! That meant a few more privileges in the Minolli household, not the least of which was being allowed to date. And by "date," they meant maybe seeing a boy once a week or so, mostly at the family home. Driving was also in the realm of possibility then, though at the time I wasn't too interested in getting behind the wheel.
The 'Minolli girls' dressed in Sunday best before going to mass in Charlevoix, where we spent an idyllic week (the kids did, anyway) on vacation each August. Hindsight is 20/20 when it comes to appreciating the blessings of being a child.
When 16 came I could not wait to be 18 because where I come from, at that age you were a full fledged adult. While it meant a lot more freedom to come and go, it also meant paying rent (if we still lived at home) and working full time and/or going to school. As long as we were under the Minolli roof, there was no slacking allowed once we cleared high school and reached that magical age.
When I finally made it, the legal drinking age was 18 as well. It was the feel good, I'm-okay-you're-okay '70s, and in the wake of the Vietnam war and all the young lives lost, lawmakers obviously concluded that if you were old enough to vote, and to get drafted off to war and die, the privilege of legally consuming alcohol should apply as well. It was a grand experiment, and still holds so much irony about when one is capable of making "mature choices"—but that's another column for another time.
Once the 18 mark came and went, I couldn't wait to turn 21. Why? Well, the 18-year-old-legal-drinking-age experiment was a major fail, and the very year I marked the magical two-one, it reverted back to 21. I was indeed born under a lucky star. Not that life revolved around consuming alcohol; but to be legally viewed as an adult for the past three years and to have those legal rights continue uninterrupted was a good thing.
After that, I didn't wish time away so much. Being an adult wasn't all I dreamed up in my head. It wasn't horrible, no, not at all, but I began to slowly understand that the childhood years are the ones to cherish—those halcyon days where time stretched out in front of me like an endless ribbon, where the clock ticked slowly and the greatest concern was what I'd wear to school that day or whether I'd be allowed to ride my bike to Northville with my friends.
Dad was right. Being a kid, as frustrating and confounding and irrational and mercurial as it is, is definitely a magical time that perhaps can only be treasured through the rosy lens of hindsight.
I have come to appreciate the time I have. I still catch myself saying things like "I can't wait until winter is over," or "I can't wait to get past that appointment" or whatnot. It's a challenge to not wish time away, to be perfectly content right here, right now...just like my dad used to say. Go figure!
As another year on speed dial passes, my wish is to slow down enough to savor what is right in front of me, all the time, 24/7, and to make time to share the messy, miraculous, beautiful, mysterious, enigmatic and wistfully bittersweet joys of this earthly life with those I love and care about.
I wish everyone the gift of time filled with peace, laughter, and abundant love in 2017.
Email Catherine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.