Wonder Years

Things never turn out exactly the way you planned. I know they didn’t with me. Still, like my father used to say, ‘Traffic’s traffic, you go where life takes you’ and growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you’re in diapers, the next you’re gone, but the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a time a place, a particular fourth of July, the things that happened in that decade of war and change. I remember a house like a lot of houses, a yard like a lot of yards, on a street like a lot of other streets. I remember how hard it was growing up among people and places I loved. Most of all, I remember how hard it was to leave. And the thing is, after all these years I still look back in wonder.–Kevin Arnold: The Wonder Years

I haven’t seen my parents since November. Technically, I see them daily via FaceTime, but I haven’t hugged them, harassed them for silly and various reasons, and/or sat beside them in close to five months. I’m homesick for my mom and dad, my siblings, and the house that made me. I am not unique in missing the comforts of childhood, especially in the midst of a pandemic, nor am I alone in thinking about the past as I consider the present and anticipate the future. This is life in 2020. It’s a whole lot of crazy and I’m missing the people and things that gift me comfort, joy, inspiration, and love.

I am finding some solace in remembering how and where I grew up. It was very Wonder Years and I’m thankful for the memories.

Like the show, there’s a war raging, and while it’s different, it’s just as volatile. And like the characters, today’s children are working to navigate childhood in a weirdly wonderful way.

The Wonder Years didn’t appeal to me because stories were void of cultural challenges or worldwide conflict. It mesmerized me because no matter the circumstances, globally or locally, the human condition poked through with an honest truth: an ordinary life is filled with extraordinary moments. Kevin Arnold, Winnie Cooper, Paul, and even Wayne, taught me this and so much more.

It may feel like the world has stopped, but I assure it’s still spinning. Babies are being born, toddlers are taking tumbles, people are falling in love, and the general wonder of life remains for many. We are doing some very normal things in what isn’t a normal scenario.

To be clear, adults are experiencing  unparalleled rates of anxiety. And to be clear, kids are absolutely aware something big, rare, scary, and strange is happening.

But if we do this right, and if we pour into them with the simple stuff that made our childhood wonder work, we might come out of this better than we entered.

Our wonder years are the anchor we covet and carry in chaos. Like Kevin Arnold said, memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.”