In Which I Realize I am Don Draper’s Son, or, The End of Second Grade

I remember leaving second grade behind me. I remember my teacher: Mrs. Ramundo. I remember doing worksheets in math, going to Gifted and Talented, looking forward to recess, talking about Garbage Pail Kids (forbidden!) at lunch. Yes, these are distant memories, but they’re quite clear, and there are quite a lot of them. I still recall what it felt like to sit in class waiting for recess to finally roll around. How the end of the year felt, with class work rolling down, parties ramping up . . .

It doesn’t seem like that long ago.

And today, my son is through with it.

The other week, I came across some home movies of him. Movies where he’s younger than DC is now. Those memories are clear enough that they might as well have been yesterday. I could close my eyes and step back into that, it feels like. Drive home, and still find TRC that age.

It’s very strange to see my son entering into the space of his life where I can actually remember occupying. It’s enough to make a guy philosophical.

We bought him a bike last Friday. He’s already riding it like a pro. He did a much better job learning than I did. (As I recall, it took me weeks–though that might just be a remnant of how long days seemed to last back then.)

Part of me is very tempted to treat TRC the way I wanted to be treated at his age. To view his struggles as identical to the ones I went through. And in many ways, they are. But at the same time, in many ways, they’re not. The summer when I was 8, the big movies that came out (big for me, at least) were Harry and the Hendersons, Superman IV, The Chipmunk Adventure, Benji the Hunted–there were hushed whispers of RoboCop. The original Legend of Zelda came out for the NES (still remember that awesome gold cartridge).

Internet? Computers? iPads? Netflix? Facebook? Cell phones? None of these existed. The reality I must accept is I am to my son (1987 to 2012) the way 1962 was to me in 1987. 1962! Manchurian Candidate, State Fair, To Kill a Mockingbird. We’re talking Mad Men season 2. Don Draper’s son in that? That’s me growing up in the 80s to my son’s point of view today. I am DON DRAPER to my son (minus the womanizing, the smoking, the poor parenting, the drinking, and the personality disorders, of course).

That’s a hard pill to swallow, because like I said–I still remember looking forward to recess.

So just like the 8 year old I remember being would tell Don Draper’s son to get lost–would insist that he didn’t understand what I was going through . . . that’s how my son views me. (Again, the analogy isn’t perfect, but I’m trying to put abstract thought that’s hard for me to wrap my brain around into a format that’s familiar to me, and that’s pop culture.) And frankly, Don’s boy wouldn’t understand being a kid in 80s, just like I can’t understand being a kid in 2012. More so, probably.

And at the same time, things haven’t changed at all. Kids are still kids. They’re mean to each other. They have feuds. Homework is still hard. Chores are still a pain. As an adult, you recognize all these things. But I remember what the 60s seemed like to me growing up. Old. Ancient. The Jetsons. Flintstones. Andy Griffith.

My mind. It is blown.

Thoughts too big for a blog post today, folks. You’ll have to fend for yourselves the rest of this fine Tuesday.

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