The Post's Ruth Marcus explains why Donald Trump Jr. is in legal jeopardy. Hint: stupidity is not a legal defense. (Adriana Usero,Kate Woodsome/The Washington Post)

All children, except two, grow up: Peter Pan and Donald Trump Jr.

“He’s a good boy,” President Trump said of his scandal-engulfed son, in remarks that started off the record and then became on the record, apparently because he liked them so much. “He’s a good kid. And he had a meeting. Nothing happened.”

Here I was thinking that he was a 39-year-old man with children of his own, but I apologize for the error. I was wrong. He is still a very promising young man. (Most white men accused of wrongdoing mysteriously turn out to be promising, a vague quality that adheres the moment someone accuses you of sexual assault and does not vanish until the moment it is revealed that you were the Zodiac Killer. Sometimes not even then.) I owe him an apology for assuming that he was an adult capable of conducting himself through the world.

He is not.

He is still very, very young. Getting younger all the time. It’s even in his name. Junior.

It wasn’t just Dorian Gray, it turns out. Any promising young white man rich enough to theoretically afford a giant oil painting of himself gets to remain young and innocent forever, and none of his actions have any consequences, whether there is magic involved or not.

“The kid is an honest kid,” a friend of his told The Post. He’s a rookie, and it was a rookie mistake.

How could he help himself? How could he know?

He’s just a boy, at 39. It is a medical mystery. Or a great miracle. Perhaps both. Maybe he is even multiple boys, cleverly hidden under an ill-fitting coat. Aw, look, he did a business! Or tried to, at least.

Never mind that other people his age are not nearly so young. That is their misfortune. Sure, as Dafna Linzer pointed out on Twitter, Don Jr. is just 10 days younger than Emmanuel Macron, the president of France. Sure, when Mozart was Little Don’s age, he had been dead for four years (and when Tom Lehrer first made that joke, he was still two years younger than Don Jr.!) and it never occurred to him to set up any incriminating meetings. Jesus did everything he did with his life and died on a cross with six years to spare. By the time he was Don Jr.’s ripe young age, Frederick Douglass had escaped from slavery and written his autobiography. Alexander the Great had already conquered an empire (sure, he had inherited a little of it from his dad) and then died. If only they’d known that they were still, functionally speaking, in diapers! They could have relaxed.

It is not Junior’s fault that he is so young. Or that he gets younger and younger, Benjamin Button-style, the more he is in the public eye. If he ever winds up testifying, we will have to wheel him in in a perambulator, so young and helpless will he have become. Hurry while he is still visible, before he creeps back into the womb — a position where he will be greatly respected.

We should not ask, “Why would he send such an email? Why would he take such a meeting? Is he, as the New York Post alleges, an ‘idiot‘?” Instead, we should marvel that he managed to type the email all by himself. The real story here is that he did not spend the whole meeting playing on his phone (like SOME people I could name) but instead listened politely, like a real grown-up. It is very impressive that he tried to help, and that is the spirit in which this should be taken, like when your 6-year-old announces that he has made something that resembles pancakes by lighting the kitchen on fire. Unless your 6-year-old is not white, of course.

Some boys never get to be boys. This is the price of men like Donald Trump Jr., who never have to be adults. All this prolonged boyhood must be squeezed out of somewhere. For all these adults to get to be children forever, some children are not permitted to be children — or allowed time to grow up. Tamir Rice never got to. Neither did Trayvon Martin. Or Tyre King. There is a whole long, sad litany of names of people who never got to make rookie mistakes, who were suddenly saddled with adulthood at 12 or 13 or 14, while men of 35 and 40 got told not to worry because they were boys and, well, they would be boys. This unnatural boyhood demands its human sacrifices. It is important to have enough privilege to spread around so that some men can remain carefree children forever, well into middle age, making their innocent, rookie mistakes.

Why, just think how promising and young Donald Trump Jr. will be in 10 or 20 years. Unless we force him to suffer consequences from his mistakes. Then he might have to learn or grow, and we would not want that. Then what excuse would he have?