In Praise of Five

The book is by Elizabeth Berg, a collection of short stories called The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted. I can't remember which story it is, but the narrator is describing her idea of heaven. She talks about the endless trays of fried foods that would be constantly passing by, the Diana Krall jazz that would be playing in the background (no harps, thank you). And then this:

"A million house-trained puppies who stayed puppies, and children who never got older than five."

I was reading that in bed one night and I had to stop and just stare at the ceiling, my eyes pricking and stinging. Oh, five.


I love five so, so much. I know lots of people get nostalgic about their children's babyhoods and I am surely not immune to feeling a whole lot of, you know, feelings when I revisit photos of those thigh-rolls and squirrel-cheeks, but five. Five, my friends, is the shit.

Five is clever and curious and insatiable. Five is too young for being too cool. Five is a wide-eyed belief that anything can be true. Five is obnoxious but rarely rude. Five is funny and silly and joyous. Five wants to be with you, all the time. Five is sometimes booooored, until you say, hey, want to play restaurant? And five jumps up and says I WILL BE THE CHEF!

Five sometimes cries piteously over a boo-boo. Five is scared of scary movie scenes. Five undergoes a startling transformation during sleep: the sharp angles and pointy elbows disappear, the mouth softens into a milk-drinking shape; five is a baby again.

I've said before that I wish I could freeze time, hold onto whatever childhood stage we're in, but I've always held a contrary desire to fast-forward at the same time. Get out of the tantrums, the diapers, the obstinate refusals, the inability to fully communicate—there have always been some major frustrations along with the magic.

Not five, though. There isn't a damn thing wrong with five. What a lovely miracle we get a full year of it, what a heartbreak it will go so fast.

Do you have a favorite childhood age yet? 

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