Coming of Age (At Any Age)

Filed under: Editorials | |

I like children’s stories. It’s is hard to say this without a touch of embarrassment. After all, what does a man in his early 40s find to appreciate in stories aimed at readers a quarter his age?

For me, it is the notion that there is notion of possibility. That the future has not been written and there is still choice and the opportunity to do something amazing in it.

Check out this description from the back of “The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate”:

The summer of 1899 is hot in Calpurnia’s sleepy Texas town, and there aren’t a lot of good ways to stay cool. Her mother has a new wind machine, but instead, Callie’s contemplating cutting off her hair, one sneaky inch at a time. She’s also spending a lot of time at the river with her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist. But just when Callie and her grandfather are about to make an amazing discovery, the reality of Callie’s situation catches up with her. She’s a girl at the turn of the century, expected to cook and clean and sew. What a waste of time! Will Callie ever find a way to take control of her own destiny?

Who doesn’t feel this way at times? Is this all there is? What about making something worthwhile?

It is expected that by a certain age we should know what we want.

  • Pick a practical major.
  • Get a real job.
  • Buy a house.
  • Save for retirement.

I know I am channeling a bit of the Vocational Wheel episode of Back to Work discussing the quarter life crisis and reinforced the notion that it is ok to not know what you want to do at 25 (or even at 40).

In children’s books, or Young Adult fiction (which sounds as odd to my ears as calling comic books “graphic novels” did about 10 years ago), this notion is accepted. It is ok that you don’t know what you want.

So, I still find value in “coming of age stories” and even though I am entering my fourth decade, I still feel that I am coming of age.