Is six a confusing time for everyone? I look at my children and think not. They may no longer like trains or construction vehicles but they go to sleep around the same time every night. Their friends range in age from 5-7. Not a single friend in their twenties or thirties. They don’t wonder why their friends are watching porn or asking them for a Tarot Card reading. I’m confident if I asked them, they would not have a preference in beer, wine or spirits or be able to sniff out particularly dank weed. They have not explained at length to their friends’ parents how exactly their parents are divorced but still live together nor have they given a detailed description of where their parents sleep and with whom. It’s different, for sure. I didn’t have the words to compile these lists at six, but I’m finding them helpful, even now, as a way to parse my childhood reality.
Signs your brother is a drug dealer:
- He got shot in the face.
- Your Dad’s best explanation is that he was playing a game with his friends and something went wrong.
- On occasion there will be a large locked chest with him.
- Travels to exotic locales, particularly Mexico.
- Does not have a discernible job.
- The word, “drugs” gets thrown around a lot when you’re presumed to be just out of hearing, follow up questions are decidedly brushed off.
- When you confront another brother with all this proof he yells at you that GWB (Gunshot Wound Brother) is, in fact, a pharmacist.
- GWB never graduated college.
- Your mother is convinced the DEA has tapped your phones and leaves town whenever GWB shows up in town.
- GWB medical bills are paid for by a guy named Fast Eddie.
- You hear your parents yelling about laundry. Much later you realize she was yelling about “money laundering.”
Signs you hang out with too many grown-ups:
- You’re six and you have more grown-up friends than people your age.
- Grown-ups constantly tell you what a “lucky little girl” ™ you are.
- Your bedtime is essentially non-existent. You’ve read about it in books but are deeply unsure how something like this would apply to you.
- You know that when James Ingraham starts playing, people will start crying about lost love.
- You prefer Rosé to Chardonnay.
- You feel more like a mascot than a person.
- It’s 11pm on a weeknight and you’re playing naked Marco Polo in your friend’s pool.
- Your friend, OK, your babysitter, starts dating your Dad.
- People regularly tell you you’re so wise.
- You are so tired, you will never feel as old and exhausted as you do right now.
If you identify with these lists, fuck, I’m so sorry. Also, welcome to the club no one wants to join. We may have missed out on quintessential childhood experiences like a loss of innocence, because we never had any, but if we’ve played our cards right we’ve gained access to a lifetime supply of empathy and dark humor. Welcome!
Alyson Shelton wrote and directed the award winning feature, EVE OF UNDERSTANDING. Currently, she’s developing a comic book with artist Elise McCall (SPY ISLAND, MAN-EATERS) and producer Jessica Petelle (VWARS, SAFEHAVEN) based on her original screenplay, THE UNITY. Her essays have appeared on MsMagazine.com and Little Old Lady (LOL) comedy blog. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.