Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wednesday's Child

This past Sunday we hosted the first annual reunion of the Lubell siblings and the Rubin brothers. The Rubins are a family that grew up with us - elementary school, Little League, July 4th parties. You get the idea. The youngest Rubin was three years older than I am and a year younger than my middle brother. The middle Rubin was my oldest brother's age and grade. And the oldest Rubin was two years older than that. So I was significantly younger than all of them. But somehow, when I was about 16, I reconnected with the oldest one, Adam, who was then 24, and he became a kind of mentor to me. We've stayed in pretty good touch over the years even though our brothers, much closer in age, lost touch after Bar Mitzvah season.

Anyway, my husband and I went to Adam's wedding back in March and I got to hang out with his younger brothers - two extremely funny and likable guys. I decided then and there to host the first annual Luby-Ruby reunion and get everyone together with spouses and kids at our house for pizza and beer. Amazingly we found a date that worked for everyone and I have to say it was ridiculously fun to hang out and reminisce. There's something about growing up with people. There's a crazy bond that goes along with living on the same street for ten years or carpooling to Hebrew school with someone that makes you connected forever. And so the Lubells are connected to the Rubins.

But all that is just set-up for what this post is really about. Half an hour into the love fest, the youngest Rubin, Matt, said something like, weren't you kind of brooding and freaky as a little girl? Who remembers that? And the other Rubin brothers chimed in unanimously in agreement. Adam's been telling some version of this narrative for the last twenty years but they went on to paint a picture of me as Violet from the Incredibles - thick-banged, awkward, painfully shy. Or Wednesday from the Adams Family - just plain creepy. Really? I can imagine at social gatherings where I was the youngest by many years I probably didn't have a ton to say. I certainly wasn't playing capture the flag with the rest of the pack. But I wasn't casting voodoo spells on people either. I was too busy lacing their drinks with laxatives. After I defended my endearing, if not peculiar, childhood mystique we moved on to making fun of the size of Adam's hair in the early Eighties.

That's maybe the one downside of childhood friends. Their perceptions of you are locked on a particular moment in time when you were who you were for whatever reason. You had mean brothers. Your parents' friends didn't have any kids your age. You were extremely shy and fiercely independent. You were the only four year old on the planet who wore glasses...where am I going with this...

Oh yes. I even see it now with my own kids - how I already have them labeled the sensitive child and the free-spirit even though there is obviously so much more to each. I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes by George Bernard Shaw, not to be confused with value vintner Charles Shaw, who wrote:

"The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them."


Everything's Rosie said...

Gotta love that Charlie Shaw and his maxims. Actually what he wrote, alias GBS, is so true and really sobering for all of us. We label all of our kids even though they're constantly evolving into different people. Did I ever refer to you as "the good child?" Hmmm, don't think so...but look at you now? Keep up the