I have no idea why we would be motivated to do this, but we tried to get our kids to make it to midnight. Sure, they aren’t all that different from other partygoers: like any hard-swilling hipster worth his salt, a kid might cry or wet himself during a particularly long party. But stretching a first-grader to midnight is a dubious plan, not least because of this fact:
They have very little sense of time.
I’m not just talking about 7pm versus 10pm versus midnight. Clearly the child-mind gets hazy about what clocks mean around bedtime anyhow.
But the bigger issue, New Year’s Eve as a holiday is entirely predicated on having made the developmental leap into understanding time in general, and specifically the passage of time. This makes it a challenging milestone for small kids. Christmas is easy: it’s just another birthday party. Channukah is understandable (if weird—kids who are growing up around smartphones probably can’t relate to the miracles of lamp-oil). Even death-centric Easter makes sense, at least to kids who have lost a grandparent or a pet, though one could ask rightfully what the hell a rabbit has to do with the death and also, while we’re at it, why grandma isn’t able to rise from the dead like Christ if that is really the Easter story.
But New Year’s Eve has got to be a strange thing indeed to someone who really doesn’t understand was 2012 was. So while I puzzled over how Carson Daly ever got a job working in television, my daughter chewed over the concepts of time and remembrance in her head, and ended up not really caring that much. Not yet, anyhow.
Which was for the best, in the end. Because her and her preschool son weren’t fated to make it to midnight anyway. They crashed around 10:30pm, and then slept through the fireworks and faint whoohooing from the street and the NYPD sirens and all the other things that make New York on New Year’s an assault on the senses. It was still a party—with two friends their age staying and their mother staying over with us from out of town, it was actually a monumental chocolate-eating pillow-fighting, milk-guzzling blowout. But they just didn’t trouble themselves with why they were partying, or why we didn’t care if they slept or not, or what 2013 will even be about.
I’m not often jealous of my kids, but I was last night. It’s a beautiful thing, to not be able to size up 2012 in any way or to form any anxieties about 2013. We should all be so lucky.