I was never one of the cool kids growing up. I know, shocker.
That’s OK. I’ve (almost) gotten over it.
It’s funny, now that I’m 65, there are all new criteria for “cool” and, finally, I think I qualify. Nowadays, it doesn’t matter how well I play kickball, or even if. No one is looking at my sneakers to make sure they are an approved brand. I am no longer judged by the TV shows I watch, or the video games I have mastered, or the amount of pepperoni pizza I can consume in one sitting.
Instead, I am “cool” because I do work I enjoy, because I am lucky enough to have a wonderful family, because I usually finish the book club book at least 30 minutes before the meeting begins. And while I do rely on eyeglasses now, I still have most of my hearing, my original knees and all of my teeth (as of this writing).
To make sure I maintain my cool status, I like to spread the rumor that driving at night, exercising (of any kind), or knowing any Ed Sheeran songs makes you decidedly UN-cool. Trust me, all the cool Nanas are in bed by 9, and watch Trevor Noah on the internet the following morning (the jokes are much funnier when you’re awake, right?)
I think I’ve figured out the key to “cool” (and why it was such an elusive goal for young, insecure me): you need to be yourself, and not care too much about following the crowd. My own offspring were a mixed bag when they were little, but now that they are in their 20s and 30s they are all proudly individuals, and indisputably cool.
It only makes sense that Sheridan’s children would take after their dad (Sher never much cared about being a follower) and even at tender ages are both proud individuals. Aiden and Peter’s different drums are beating loudly, and it is music to my ears.
Aiden is finishing up second grade soon, and while there are of course some areas where he conforms, for the most part he likes what he likes, whether it’s drawing elaborate comic strips, singing in a boys choir, or geeking out on math problems. He is not on a township sports team, but is instead learning tennis. He loves to play chess with his dad, and watch old episodes of “Garfield” on TV. By not worrying about being “cool”, my grandson actually is.
So my cool guy was 8 on May 27, and he wanted a classic Beetle Bailey cartoon collection as a gift, and Mama’s noodle soup as his special dinner. I look at this boy I love so deeply, with his goofy grin, gangly frame and penchant for clowning around, and I pray he will never stop being wonderfully quirky and unique Aiden. It’s my prayer for us all, to be the only people we were created to be. Ourselves.
Happy birthday, sweetheart. You’re absolutely one of a kind.