Almost forty years ago a teacher gave us an assignment to draw and write what we thought the world would look like in fifty years. In my mind I saw houses with sci-fi smooth lines, bright, clean, metallic and plastic. Cars would certainly fly long before that. Fifty years was a lifetime. Beyond a lifetime, for a fourth-grader. Practically forever.
I was proud, and so excited, as I showed my parents my drawing, and described our future.
But there was a pause. I waited for them to be impressed. As their silence stretched, my attention shifted from the glowing heights of my vision, to their faces. They didn’t see what I did.
My father finally disagreed. I didn’t believe what he said, but I didn’t disbelieve, either. How could it be possible that the way the world, the way communities, houses, buildings looked, and the way vehicles ran, wouldn’t change dramatically in such a long, long time?
Well, the same way they hadn’t in my father’s lifetime. And though transportation had changed in the hundred years the house we lived in stood, it still stood.
I could argue with his words, deny them. But not with what I learned during the pause, their amused expressions as they decided what to do with their honest first reaction, as my excitement over my understanding of the world and its – my – bright possibilities faded.
I saw myself as they saw me. Small. And lacking understanding.
Fifty years in the future, it might still sting.