#64….The Catcher in the Rye
A digression for a review today, folks. You all know the story.
I remember vividly my first read of JD Salinger’s classic, The Catcher in the Rye. It was the perfect time to read this book, knee deep in tenth grade angst (it doesn’t get any better than that, right?). Holden Caulfield was my hero. He thought just like I did. I hated everyone. I wanted everyone to like me. I didn’t want to grow up. I wanted to grow up NOW. I didn’t understand why people around me were in such a hurry to grow up, and everyone seemed to be doing it better than me. Everyone was ‘phony’ and obsessed with appearances. My parents might as well have been from another planet; they didn’t get it. And the crazy thing was, sometimes, even though I was old enough to drive a car and have a job, part of me still wanted to go home, have my mom make me a PB&J, and color. Maybe even take a nap.
I have to admit, when I opened this book as a grownup, Holden and I didn’t exactly see eye to eye. My first general feeling was irritation. Man, what is wrong with this kid? Can’t he just relax and have fun? My high school years were the best of my life. Stop complaining. Stop ‘horsing around’. Do your damn schoolwork. Stop getting kicked out of schools. Be nice to people! And then I realized I was no better than everyone else Holden came in contact with during the book.
How soon all of us adults forget what it was like to be locked in the angst of those years. There was no ballast. I could understand why Holden wanted to go back to the years where he walked through the Museum, roller skated in the park, danced on the bed with Phoebe (while smoking, no less!) and could be the general goofball that he was without the world judging him for it. Childhood, if you think about it, is so short, and growing shorter these days. When you were a kid, if you saw another kid, bam, they were your friend, regardless of how they looked, what color they were, what religion they were, or how popular they were. Kids don’t care if other kids have Hollister tshirts on. At least they didn’t when I was younger. Nowadays, they do. Trust me. I was buying designer stuff for my kid in 5th grade. And she was on the later end of the spectrum.
When I thought about my teenage daughter, the dichotomy that is Holden Caulfield actually made more sense. My daughter longs to see movies I think are too old for her, and wear shorts I think are WAY too short, yet she still sleeps with five stuffed animals and runs through the sprinkler. She’s learning how to wear makeup, but I still find rocks in her jeans pockets. Throughout the horror of her teen years, it’s the little bits of childhood I still find laying around that make me smile.
I wish all of us parents could be more like Holden, and be the catchers in the rye for our kids. I wish we could keep them from going over the cliff, or put them in one of those glass cases at the museum so they never grow up. But they do. Sigh.
Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there! And enjoy your kids while they are still young. 🙂