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News, info, commentary on Hollywood's former child stars | Joal Ryan, Editor

"What My Kindergartner Taught Me About Gary Coleman"

Our son is 4 going on 5, and forever measuring himself against his peers. Literally. "Big guys" are boys who are taller than himself; "little guys" are boys who are shorter. Age is meaningless, for our son knows -- knows -- that height equals age equals strength equals power equals all that is wanted and desired by boys who are 4 going on 5.

Would Gary Coleman have told him he's wrong?

I imagine Coleman being 5 going on 6. I imagine him forever measuring himself against his peers. I even imagine him being pleased, and I rarely imagine Gary Coleman being pleased.

I imagine the day when the drugs, the ones needed to help his body accept a new kidney, slowed his growth enough for him to notice. I imagine his classmates and friends moving past him, inch by inch, foot by foot.

I imagine Coleman no longer being pleased.

Most of all, I imagine Coleman being trapped.

Not everyone is trapped by their circumstances, their health, or even their stature, but Coleman, I think more and more, was. His oft-stated desire to have remained in Zion, Ill., his birthplace, was less about wanting to be anonymous, and more about wanting to be who he used to be: a boy of 5 going on 6, who measured up nicely against his peers.

This thought comes not just because of our son's current obsession, but because of Coleman's current situation.

Since Coleman's cremation in June 2010, his ashes have remained at an attorney's office in Provo, Utah. A custody dispute among the actor's survivors, real, alleged, disputed or otherwise, has prevented the remains' dispersal.

And so his ashes sit.

And so Coleman remains trapped.

And so Zion is looking prettier everyday.

(Originally published by Joal Ryan on Aug. 27, 2011.)

c. Joal Ryan