My kids are going to start paying me a dollar for each time that they roll their eyes at me. I have figured out a quick way to make a buck on this. Just pull out the camera. It drives them batty. I admit that they are probably wandering through their formative years with splotches of green flash blocking their periphery because I always have a camera in their face. Snaphappy woman am I. If the shoe were on the other foot, I also admit that I would probably be pulling a hand-in-the paparazzi face or beating back the camera with an umbrella in hand and a crazed, shaved Britney-glare in my eye too. I hide at dinner parties behind curtains pretending to have lost a lipstick to avoid such Kodak moments.

The ongoing picture battle with the kids is one that I choose to fight because these candids seem to be the only way that I can win this ongoing crusade to keep them young, innocent and free.  Bottom line, this is a world that is trying to grow them up faster than I ever gave it permission to do so. Shows like Jersey Shore, middles fingers and bosoms at halftime shows, and genetically modified foods from top to bottom shelf at the grocery store are the tip of the iceberg as the culprits for growing our kids up too fast. Noticed the phenomenon of pre-teens being as well-endowed as the college kids? Blame Monsanto, the gang elite of fake seed pushers and hormone saturated milk. (Different blog, another day very soon.) I watched ten minutes of Jersey Shore once and swear I depleted more brain cells in those 600 seconds than a week in Amsterdam in my 20’s.

So this morning, Turner blasted me with “Mom, WHY do you always take so many pictures of us?”

This, after he gently- then fiercely- shook me awake with his Halloween masked face inches from my nose. After the initial startle, what do I do? Grab my camera phone to capture his asymmetrically glorious bedhead. 

My answer: “I take pictures of you because you are growing so fast.”

His response: “Well, then let me take some pictures of you too.”

Me: “But I’m not really growing up anymore like you are.”

Freeze frame. Rewind. Not exactly the message that I meant to send. We adults are, in fact, growing too. Not just the kind of growing associated with those calipers that measure body fat index. I mean still growing up. I took the opportunity to backtrack with my kid this morning and admit that, yes, I am still growing up too although not in the sharpie hash mark inches on the laundry room wall sort of way. I even conceded to let him take a picture of me in all my crusty-eyed, pimple creamed glory. Pimple cream at 38? Yeah, not exactly what I planned but I blame it on the genetically-modified food engineers too. 

Let’s think about this though. Grown-ups … still growing up? A significant part of my growing up has happened as the last decade or two have trickled through the hourglass. In my 20’s. Got married. Had a kid. 30’s. Did a 180 degree u-turn on my political views, had another kid, faced post-partum depression headfirst and slightly sideways. Discovered the value of lasting friendships. Discovered that not everyone is qualified for that category but that it’s a good idea to be nice to them anyway. Discovered what it feels like to live above my means. Discovered what it feels like reclaim those means one day at a time. Discovered what it feels like to help my own child deal with a bully without wanting to cauiflower the bully’s ear on a wrestling mat myself. Oh yeah. I am still growing. Exponentially. Everyday. Growing up and learning up can be used interchangeably here but I think that if I had to pick the most powerful growing up lesson that I have endured lately, it is this.

With each year that passes, I seem to like my world more and more colorful. Bring on the color that drips from the right side, the only functional side, of my brain. Clothes, opinions, books, movies, scarves, offbeat travel, Toms shoes. I like having at least one friend with a purple mohawk who reads philosophy books for kicks. I also like my friend who suppresses a smile and her Baptist roots when I tell a profane joke. I like people who are still perfectly profound even when they rarely nail subject/verb agreement because they were too busy holding down their first job on a farm or at McDonalds when that grammar lesson was covered. I like people who are not afraid to do the broken-leg dance at wedding reception (because I only have enough guts to practice it in the mirror). I like people who aren’t afraid of the words I don’t know. Even a doctor as long as they follow it with but we’ll figure it out. I like people whose ipods showcase a little bit of everything from Nirvana to the Mumford boys. People who push limits but respect tradition. 

On the other hand, I don’t like it when people always agree with me. Difficult, huh. I like to surround myself with people who wonder. Who question the status quo. Maybe that it why I enjoy my kids 99.9% of the time. They are perpetual wonderers and habitual questioners. Too bad that we cannot document this kind of growing with a camera. I guess it would still look a little something like the pictures below with some very honest captions like:

This is the year that I realized that it’s true what they say- money cannot buy happiness


This is the year that I realized that people who don’t don’t vote generally forego their right to complain 


This is the year that I realized that anything over 90 degrees outside makes me a veritable lunatic who struggles to be a nice person


This is the year that I traded in the baby oil for SPF 801 and $40 eye cream


This, YES, this is the year that I side glanced the first wrinkle in the mirror and knew exactly what hard wisdom had won its spot

…or (See bottom pic)

THIS is the year that I realized kids- each and every single one of them-  are better than most adults at this growing up thing and it is never too late take a few lessons from one

In the meantime, guess what kid? That will be a buck. Now, say cheese. 



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