There's a reason why I'm immature

Published 12:35 am Monday, March 3, 2003

By By Lloyd Albritton
These days many of us are finding great success in blaming our personality, character and intellectual shortcomings on our parents or some other childhood influence. We don't always figure these things out by ourselves. Sometimes we get help from our friends or our friendly therapist. I never cease to be amazed at how many adults suddenly remember when they are forty or fifty years old that their parents were physically abusive to them, or perhaps even molested them when they were young. A woman whose father gave her a bath when she was three years old may remember her father touching her "inappropriately," with a little interpretive help from her perspicacious analyst, of course. Grown men often conclude that dad's stern whippings with his belt for misbehavior were actually inhumane "beatings" which corrupted their emotional stability from the get-go and is no-doubt the reason why they have not found happiness and success in life.
I have heard and read many of these accounts and have often felt disappointed that I could not find something from my own childhood experiences to blame my adult failures and bad behavior on. When people say to me, "Lloyd, why don't you grow up and act your age?" I can never find a good excuse. I hate that! How I wish my childhood had not been so perfect. Surely, someone other than myself has to be responsible for my immaturity.
Well, by cracky, after talking with my therapist, who happens to be my oldest daughter, Laura, I think I have finally figured out who is to blame for my lifetime of immature behavior. It's the government!
It all came to light as I was discussing with my daughter the upcoming birthday party she has planned for my grandson, Gabe. Gabe will turn six on March 12th and he is already counting the minutes until his big birthday bash on Saturday, March 8th. He's going with a Power Rangers theme and is going to have a big water slide party in his backyard with all his friends. I'm so excited! But, I digress.
The point is, Gabe started Kindergarten this year at age five and will start First Grade next fall at age six. During our discussion my daughter observed that a mere year's difference at this tender age of life makes a lot of difference in a child's maturity level and learning capabilities in school. For example, Gabe's friend, Jace, who lives down the street and plays with him every day, will soon turn seven years old. Jace is conspicuously more mature than Gabe and is more advanced in his learning skills, Laura noted. She also cited several other examples to illustrate this point and we quickly found consensus in the theory that two children of equal intelligence beginning school at the same time, one being a year older than the other, will typically progress at different strides, the older child having the advantage because of that child's additional year of maturity.
As we conversed, I confided that when I started school many years ago I did not attend Kindergarten, but started school in the First Grade at age six. "So you were one of the older children in your class then?" Laura inquired.
"Au contrair," I replied. "I was one of the younger kids in my class. I turned age seven in October of 1953. Most of my classmates had already turned seven earlier in the year." In those days children were allowed to enter the First Grade at age six as long as they would turn six by the end of the year. Today, a child must be six prior to the beginning of the school year.
I saw my daughter's face take on a puzzled look as her mind quickly crunched the numbers. "No, that can't be," she argued, "else your classmates would have turned six the previous year and would consequently have been a year ahead of you in school."
Following a brief disagreement, I removed my shoes so that I could use my toes to count past ten, and counted backward from the time I entered my last year of high school at age 16 (graduating at age 17 in 1965) and quickly realized that I had not begun my First Grade year at age six after all, but rather, at age five.
Harkening back to those years, I remembered how difficult school was for me all through my elementary years and it suddenly dawned on me that I had been almost a year younger than most of my classmates. Well, no wonder I had problems keeping up! And it's no wonder that I have a problem acting my age today. I am immature because I have been forced to act a year older than I really am for my entire life. The government started me to school too early and none of this is my fault. Whew, what a relief it is to finally know the reason for a lifetime of immature behavior.
Lloyd Albritton's column appears in The Atmore Advance and in The Fairhope Courier. He can be contacted at or at (850) 384-6676.

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