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Being 10 in 2010: Everett Stubblefield

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Sunday, December 5, 2010; 12:31 PM

Think of your life as a popsicle. The years are layered, flavor upon flavor. At the center, hidden by time, is the popsicle stick. You can add 50 more flavors, or lick them all off, and there it will be: the quintessential you -- ever-present, unchanged.

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That stick is you at age 10.

You were stubborn or reflective or effervescent or introverted. You were full of certainty, confidence, bluster. So what if you didn't know what you didn't know? There was no Who Am I yet. You could still locate the thinnest ray of light in the dark and skip in it. Blue moods didn't last so long; a hand at the back pushed you forward. Maybe it was a Darwinian survival skill; maybe it was God's way of protecting you; maybe it was your parents. Maybe it was just the magic of being 10.

But what about 10-year-olds growing up now? Wars rage, terrorism lurks, the planet is warming, jobs are vanishing, poverty is growing, there are more children diagnosed with disabilities. There are the influences of the big M Media (Miley Cyrus pole dancing?) and the little m media -- video games rated M, for Mature; XXX Web sites; Explicit music; texting and sexting and sexual innuendo permeating even the bubble of childhood.

What does it feel like to be 10 in 2010? We decided to take a stab at it.

We won't pretend that the three profiles of Washington-area children we publish here reflect every 10-year-old, or even most of them. Nothing that grand. But we'd still venture to say that, despite all the bad influences and grown-up-world worries that surround kids today, there remains something timeless and magical about being 10.

***

EVERETT STUBBLEFIELD

By DeNeen Brown (browndl@washpost.com)

The thing that Everett feared most was Broly, a video-game villain who looks like Rock Man except bigger and scarier, with bulging muscles sculpted like mountains. Fire for hair parted into green thick flames. A chest as huge as a small country and fists ready to pummel mortals -- big and small.

Everett feared Broly as though Broly were real. Everett had nightmares about him. Nightmares about Broly and flamingos.

You mean the pink birds at the zoo?


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