A Doug's Life: Menifee, Will You Ever Grow Up?

Happy fourth birthday, Menifee!

Hard to believe, but you're the same age as my granddaughter Riley, who lives with us. She's cuter, but you're just as much appreciated.

Oh I know, you've had some growing pains. You were actually trying to bust out of the womb for about 125 years, ever since folks first named this area after an old miner, Luther Menifee Wilson. The birth finally happened in 2008 with incorporation. Since then, childhood has been difficult at times.

It's unfortunate that not everyone likes you the way you are. For the record, I think you're pretty cool. Not perfect, of course, but more of what I want in a town than a lot of other places.

Yes, we all have our own ideas about what kind of 4-year-old you should be -- as well as what kind of 25-year-old and 50-year-old you should be. We're all looking to the future -- just with varying visions of what your "growth" should be.

Little Riley says she's going to grow up to be taller than me. Maybe so, but she will also learn that bigger isn't always better. I think I would rather see her stop at 5-foot-9 or so and continue to grow in other ways.

Perhaps this will be the case with you, Menifee.

In some ways, I think you want to grow up to be bigger than Temecula. Maybe it's a jealousy thing. You have a mall? I can build a mall. You've got restaurants? Look at my restaurants.

Maybe that's it, as some people seem to believe. Or maybe it's just that you're doing what you have to do to survive among the big kids. A city without sufficient tax revenue is like the little kid who comes to the arcade without any coins. You don't get to play, and all your friends gravitate to the kids with the pocket full of change.

So yes, Menifee, you have a choice to make. Do you grow up to play with the big boys, building out from Interstate 215 and paving over more of your open land? Or do you remain content to be a slightly modern version of what you always were? Which is the path to happiness?

Probably somewhere in the middle. Yes, there has to be a path down the middle.

Go ahead and bring in a movie theater, Menifee. Maybe a bowling alley or miniature golf course, too. A couple more restaurants can't hurt. Just don't get carried away.

Don't go getting a big head, thinking you can stick a high rise here and there. I trust that you won't, but be aware that others are watching. So behave yourself. Don't try to be something you aren't. But at the same time, realize the potential you have to be a real nice place to live.

All around you, the grown-ups are trying to tell you what kind of city to be. Eventually, you'll figure that out yourself. Things will fall into place and you will listen to the influences you trust. And whatever happens, we'll all just have to adjust.

If it's worth it to us to stay here, we'll adjust.