Well, ho-ly shit.
Another school year come and (almost) gone. How is it possible for each year to pass more quickly than the last? Is this some sort of competition? I don’t mind losing if it is. I mean I’m not a hugely competitive person, unless there’s board games involved obviously, but I’ll gladly take the loss here and just put the brakes on the clock even if that means bedtime gets further and further away each night.
The rapid, unforgiving passing of time is pretty much the one thing parents of the world can universally agree on it seems. Well… that and a deep seeded hatred of common core math. (And if you like that math YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH and pretend you hate it like the rest of us so you can still have friends at parties. Also, call me so you can come over and do math with Daughter.) The end of each school year is always a trigger for an avalanche of mixed emotions, especially as the kids get older. Where once the mere thought of summer would conjure fear and panic at the idea of so much unscheduled time, that same thought of so much unscheduled time now feels less like a burden and more like a prize. I say this full well knowing that my kids will be driving me absolutely mad at some point (immediately) over the summer and I will be fully kissing the floor of school grounds jubilantly come the first day of school. I mean we all know I’m not some kind of delusional, Pinterest parent with a whole box full of things to do when you’re bored. Frankly I am way too lazy to create such a box and also, I have always been in full support of boredom. Boredom sparks creativity. And naps.
But as this school year ends and I look forward to lazy days with The Children, the passing of another grade has encouraged this very weepy phase of parenting I have found myself in recently as I watch Son grow from boy to young man. As a human who has no shame in public crying (Hi, divorce), even I must admit it’s getting a tad embarrassing how easily and frequently I find myself tearing up at the simplest glance at Son. The older he gets, the more he naturally slips a bit away from me and while I know this is okay, this is what he’s supposed to do, this is healthy for him to discover who he is outside of being my son, (blah blah blah), I admit it breaks my heart a little more each day as my baby boy keeps getting further and further away and this teenager keeps getting closer and closer. Because that baby boy….wasn’t he just right here, holding my hand as we crossed the street to go to the park for the fourth time in one day and now that baby boy is almost a seventh grader and he kinda smells and he has a wart on his elbow that won’t go away and doesn’t even want to play board games with me anymore and DON’T YOU REMEMBER HOW MANY GAMES OF MONOPOLY JR YOU MADE ME PLAY WHICH IS THE WORST GAME EVER CREATED SO PLEASE PLAY YAHTZEE WITH ME TO PROVE YOUR LOVE. Also, hand me a tissue. Also, you’re so handsome I could just cry. Oh wait, I am.
I get tripped out as my kids get older and it becomes that much easier to remember when *I* was that age. Seventh grade? Mrs. Bye was my favorite teacher, rivaled closely by Mr. McKay who drove a red Miata that was the envy of us all, I did this ah-maz-ing presentation on the wonderful country of Hungary, had a crush on Mike Ohotto, let Nate Stanton cheat off my paper in English class, Anderson Cooper and Lisa Ling gave us the news each morning on Channel 1, and Mr. Glenn was the cutest gym teacher in the land. I feel so close to my childhood self, even though it was a long time ago and I can’t help but see all the years, past, present and future, slipping through my fingers like grains of sand. What will my kids hold with them as they move through their lives? What simple moments will get stuck in their heads for reasons we can never understand? Because as I reflect on my childhood, it is always the simplest of memories I carry closest to my heart. Summer walks to Birdsall’s Ice Cream. Jumping off the dock into a warm lake. Shucking corn in the backyard with my siblings while lightning bugs gently glowed beside us. I wonder if my parents took a mental snapshot of those moments as I try to do with my own kids. I know we can’t relish each and every moment. People are busy; we got shit to do. Some days are meant for memories and others will slip by unnoticed. But the gift, I suppose, is in the not knowing where each day will land in our memory, hopefully forcing us to try and be as present as possible as these years unfailingly fly by.
Growing older is a privilege, not a guarantee and no matter how hard I cling to my babies, I have to remember that we raise kids so they can be independent of us. I know I’m holding strong, Children, but I’ll keep loosening my grip. Just know that you can always hold tighter when you need too and you can even let go when it’s time. Also know that I’ll be crying a lot but I cry at choral music and every time Goose dies so don’t worry too much about me and all this weepiness. It just comes naturally.
Now…who wants to play a board game with me?