Up

“Give me a boy until the age of seven and I will give you the man.”

This quote is attributed to various Jesuits. Its meaning, I guess, is that our path is shaped early in life. Also, our path is predictable based on what we are like as little children.

I do wonder how much truth there is to this idea. My own boy is interested in the following careers: policeman, Army man, doctor, rock seller, ice cream inventor, the next Bill Gates, and lately, fighter pilot. I’m struggling to predict his path.

He turned eight yesterday. I guess I was feeling sentimental about leaving seven, because suddenly I wanted to watch the “Up” series of films. (These are not to be confused with Disney/Pixar’s “Up”, which—ironically—is a downer.) The “Up” series are documentaries shot in Britain from 1964 to present. They started with a group of seven-year-olds from various socioeconomic backgrounds and have followed them up to present day, shooting a new documentary every seven years. The group is now in their early 50’s.

I’ve watched “7 Up”, “7 Plus 7”, and “21 Up” so far. My suspicion that I’ve been writing my literary middle-schoolers as too juvenile was confirmed when I watched the 14-year-olds talking. I’m becoming convinced that the only differences between adults and teenagers are experience and self-control. Otherwise, the thinking seems exactly the same.

Netflix streams these documentaries, so if you have access to it online, you can watch on your computer. They’re also available on DVD. They’re totally fascinating, and I highly recommend them. I can’t wait to get to “35 Up” to see how their lives have progressed and how their thinking compares to my own. And I’m curious to see what happens beyond then.

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