"Was everything black and white when you were a kid?"
His question threw me.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Coz in the old films everything is," he replied.
It took me a while to explain:
a) it was just how films were before film makers knew how to add colour,
b) I'm not that old!
Questions like that say with you.
I've blogged a lot recently about my own childhood experiences, the ones I've carefully chosen to remember and when I think about them, everything was black and white in one respect. The shades of colour were added as I matured and left behind simplicity.
When I was stuck in traffic recently, I glanced out my car window and saw a queue of 4 people at a bus stop. One was a child who was doing star jumps out of boredom. He was quite happily ignoring the world around him and the 3 adults standing near him who were idly staring out into space. If an adult was doing star jumps then I would have thought that he'd lost his marbles. I remembered my son's question.
You can only do star jumps at a bus stop when you're a child, everything is black and white, uncomplicated. I now tell my son: "You're only a kid once," knowing full well that he wants to go head first into a grown-up world. I tell my husband: "He's only a kid once," usually when he's struggling to understand an unintended but stupid action.
It surprised me nowadays that parents allow their tiny offspring to run riot through restaurants, screaming and throwing tantrums and yet they are quick to condemn teens when they stand on street corners chatting, stuck for something to do in a world catering for mainly small children and adults. For teens, star jumps have been replaced by skateboarding or hanging around fast food joints. Perhaps people become easily exasperated by them because inwardly they rage: "You're only a teen for a few short years, make the most of it!" But, what would you have them do? Study? Spend hours reading alone in a room? Clean the house so you don't have to?
When we look back at our earlier memories they always seem brighter, more colourful in our mind's eye. We fell in love in a second, suffered agony after the slightest of defeats, played the same song over and over, were passionate about something one day and it was then totally forgotten the next.
I saw on the news this morning that many old people are visiting their local surgeries because they are so lonely. Perhaps, for some, things return to black an white when they grow old and they seek colour wherever they can find it?
So, if my son ever asked me his cryptic question again then I would reply: "Yes, everything was black and white when I was a kid and one day it might be again."