Here I’ve gone and let it happen . I’ve let time slip away. I knew it was happening. I’m not good at living in the moment – I’m always jumping ahead to the next step. So as those moments slipped by, they turned around, waved, and said, “You’re going to regret those times you said, ‘I can’t right now because....’”
This thought occurred to me on Friday, several hours after attending our daughter’s graduation from Senior Kindergarten. Maybe some of this was magnified by the fact I also attended, the night before, the convocation ceremony for graduates of the Perth campus of Algonquin College (where I teach part time).
The graduations represent two ends of a spectrum. People who have been parents for a lot longer than I have say the time in between passes in a flash.
It sure does.
As you can imagine, Kindergarten graduation is a Really Big Deal. It requires the perfect dress, the perfect braids, a fruit tray and a minor shoe crisis moments before departure. One of the cool things Girlchild’s teacher does in the ceremony (she did it with Boychild’s class, too) is announce with each diploma what that student wants to be when he or she grows up. The answers are wide ranging – lots of ballet dancers and police officers and teachers and “just like Dads” and farmers.
Girlchild indicated she wants to be a doctor. This was quite a surprise to us. I certainly hope she stops licking doorknobs and gets really good at washing her hands before then. Or maybe she wants to be a doctor so she can go on a quest to kill the germs that did us in this year.
Incidentally, she has already changed her mind on this. Apparently she actually wants to be a nurse. Either way we figure she will be handy to have around. Perhaps she will be able to patch up her brother, who indicated in Kindergarten that he wanted to be a dirt bike racer. Boychild has since decided he doesn’t know what he wants to be, although computer game tester has been suggested.
That future seems so far away, but it also seems like only a few months ago that I was rocking babies to sleep and breathing in that indescribable newborn scent. I do think about this when I am walking with the kids to and from school and my youngest still lets me hold her hand.
I remember when the kids were babies how every stage had its pros and cons. There were always some really great things about newborns (e.g. they tend to be very portable), but also some not-so-fun stuff (e.g. they poo a lot and don’t often sleep through the night).
And then there’s the old saying about how we spend the first several years of our kids’ lives teaching them how to walk and talk, and then when they become teenagers we wish they would sit down and shut up.
Sometimes those fleeting moments of childhood go by so fast it’s hard to recognize them for what they are. Sometimes you’d rather not recognize them, such as when your five-year-old gets ornery and says she’s “not even going to love you on Mothers’ Day.”
I see it as a sign I am doing my job. Apparently I am the Meanest Mother Ever™ because, time and again, I put my foot down at bedtime, which leads to unrest. And by that I mean “turbulence” and “strife,” not “unrested children.” I could live with less turbulence and strife at bedtime, though.
So what has all this reflection taught me? Nothing. I have always known how important it is to live in the moment; to live every moment as if it were your last; to savour your children’s childhoods; to grab life by the horns and yadda yadda yadda. But it doesn’t always happen.
I could use a clone.
As Girlchild prepares to leave Kindergarten behind and move on to Grade 1, and as Boychild edges away from those primary years, one thing is for sure. Time just goes faster and faster.
Before I know it, someone will be asking for car keys.
Published in The Perth Courier, June 16/11