Creeping sentimentality


What’s happening to me?

If you were to ask me five or six years ago what would be a nightmare for me, it would probably be something along the lines of being anywhere near children. Just the thought of being in a room full of kids having fun gave me a headache.

But last Wednesday, working in the Omer library during a magic show, as the children in the crowd erupted in laughter and screamed in delight, I realized something. My head wasn’t pounding. I wasn’t miserable.

I was cracking up right alongside of them. And while the magician was a pretty funny guy, it wasn’t his self-inflicted over-exaggerated wounds I was laughing at, or the punch lines following the sleight of hand.

It was the reaction of the kids in the crowd. To see about 40 or 50 kids laughing that hard — probably until their guts hurt; who hasn’t been there? — was just a lot of fun as far as my job goes.

Perhaps it was nostalgia that kept me giggling throughout. Maybe their reactions were triggering something in my subconscious — a time I bellowed until my belly ached when I was just little Timmy. I don’t think so, though. I think it’s something more than that.

People who were around several years ago when I first started doing the newspaper thing could likely attest that I used to be much more cynical, pessimistic and, well, angry. I knew it all, and it was all HORRIBLE. Humans for the most part were terrible and their children were evil — destined to inherit the scummiest qualities of mom and dad, which would mix with the sense of entitlement and poor attitudes I assumed all kids had, making for a volatile solution.

I don’t judge kids like that right away anymore. I recently became an uncle to a beautiful niece who has the most adorable smile in the world. I trust that my brother and sister-in-law will raise her to be respectable, sweet, funny and smart. Perhaps she will become president one day? Who knows. But I do know I will never look at her in the same light I once looked at all children in.

Am I becoming a softy? A big wimp who, as he approaches 30, is losing his edge?

Well, let’s not be too hasty, here. The cynicism still rears its head from time-to-time, though I feel it happens in situations more deserving of negativity.

For example, I was recently eating at a restaurant in Bay City, when I saw a kid that rekindled the old hate-flame. Using my detective skills (eavesdropping), I realized he was eating there with his mother and grandmother. He was being kind of mouthy, or at least loud, and at one point his mom reached over and kind of grabbed his shoulder or something. I’m not positive what she did, but I’m certain his reaction was not the proper one.

He reared back and slapped her on the arm. Pretty hard, too. I saw it plain as day and my first reaction was to hurl the chicken wing I was eating at him, but I held back, thinking he would be dragged to the bathroom and come back teary-eyed.

But alas, nothing. He continued to act like a brat, until finally she did drag him away, at which point he was screaming and carrying on like a crazy person, so much so that his mother soon brought him back to the table without doling out any punishment.

I should’ve thrown the chicken wing when I had the chance.


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