So, last night we’re sitting around the dinner table for family dinner, talking about the work day, my upcoming TAD trip, and the Medium-sized child pipes up with this little nugget:
“Just think, Dad. In nine more years, I can join the Marine Corps!”
My wife and I both just stopped and looked at each other, agape and aghast, as the truth of this revelatory ass-kicker settled in. We both broke into this ephiphanic grin of dismay. “Yeah, that’s right, isn’t it?”
As parents we tend to harbor the carefully nurtured fiction that our little kids will always be little kids. We revel in the sweet innocence and childish glee they take in life, even as we face the inevitable struggles of young independent wills against our own.
And then one of our offspring will up and burst the bubble with a random comment. To a kid, 9 years seems like an eternity. To a parent, nine years is a freakin’ wakeup call.
In about four more months, he’ll hit the double digit mark. It just struck me the other day that next year he will be going into the fifth grade. Holy Mother of Sausages! FIFTH GRADE! I’m not ready to have a fifth grader. It seems like just yesterday I WAS a fifth grader.
Yurrrkkgg. That means 6th Grade is just around the corner. Puberty, and girls, and a whole new flavor of attitude. And then Junior High!
It makes me want to put him in a glass case and preserve him as-is. And yet, at the same time, I’ve so enjoyed watching him grow and change to this point, that I have a secret yearning to watch the rest of the process. I want to see how he turns out, what kind of young man he becomes.
So I smile my best, plastic stewardess smile, bury the twinge of pain and regret and that vague, conflicted sense of loss, and try to sound encouraging and supportive. And remind myself to take a lot more pictures than I have been.