End of Innocence

But all three of my daughters married young and began families of their own soon after high school and as they skipped over all the things that took them from teenager to young adult to full blown responsible adult it sometimes saddens me to consider all they gave up. I know their natural tendencies are to jump in the pool, blow bubbles in their milk and laugh out loud (usually too “out loud”) but now as parents and responsible adults they have to contain some of their natural tendencies. They watch Sam, now 16, playing with their toddlers in much the same way they played with him once – it is all so symmetrical.

Don’t get me wrong, they are all fun parents who get in there and get dirty with their kids but they have to be the one who says, “Okay, enough, this is getting out of hand.” They never had to be that person before – and that change is a significant one.

By the time Sam was 3 and more durable and easy to play with, Nicco, the youngest of the first set, was 11. He watched over his brother like a hawk and today when I see video of them together back in those days I swell with emotion the way he shepherds him everywhere. But anyway Nicco would FULLY engage Sam (who just worshipped his older brother) and I recall pulling in the driveway one afternoon to this incredible scene.

Nicco had dug a hole in the ground and filled it with water. Sam was sitting at the edge of the hole naked and wet with a frog in one hand and a melting ice cream bar in the other. The dog was covered with mud as were Nicco and Sam and the garden hose was hooked up to a rotating sprinkler which was inadvertently spraying through the screens of the back porch every 15 seconds or so. Clearly after filling the hole with water they boys neglected to cover their tracks by putting the sprinkler back where it was. Foxy they were not. Nicco had straddled his back bike tire over the hole so that the bike stood erect and when he pedaled, a steady stream of muddy water would spray Sam and the dog down from head to toe which all of them found to be absolutely hilarious; especially the dog. Later my wife explained that she had simply gone to put a load of laundry in and at that moment only the hole was dug so they put this little mud-spraying plan together in only a matter of minutes. Well she came out the back door right as I pulled into the driveway and the boys turned to look at the two of us with our mouths gaping. And then Nicco said the line that could have set off an explosion but did just the opposite; the line that kept him on the right side of childhood and still somewhat does to this day. He said, “What’s wrong?”

And I said the first thing that popped into my head: “Absolutely nothing.”

Hold on to your children’s childhood my friends. The end of the innocence comes too soon and life should be enjoyed by those that have trouble-free opportunities for as long as possible. I don’t mean your post college kids should stay in your basement until they are 30, I just mean a kid is a kid and that privilege is a beautiful thing.

Ron Ciancutti is the Director of Procurement for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at rdc@clevelandmetroparks.com.

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2 comments on “End of Innocence

  1. Barb Burkholder on said:

    Lovely article. Sounds like you have always known how to be “In the moment!” Sadly, it takes a major tragedy for many to experience all that life has to offer. Even the sticky, gross fun days!

  2. billy moore on said:

    Beautiful Ron. I have a 25 year old an a 16 year old. I am really active with my son and was with my daughter when she lived at home. But man, I do miss the days of pure young innocent craziness. Your article touches home. I think the big message is cherish every single moment with your kids. It zips by way too quickly.

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