Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Musings on Childhood

They always told me it would go by fast. Catching sight of the chubby cheeked face poking out from the baby carrying contraption I wore, they'd half-smile, half-reminisce as they said that well-worn in sentence I expected to hear, "Enjoy it, it goes by so fast."

To them, it was half small-talk to a complete stranger, half woeful nostalgia for their own offspring's vanished childhood.

I vowed I wouldn't let his childhood vanish right under my nose like that. I'd experience it there with him, every long day, every longer night, all the glorious wonderment & discovery.

And I'd make sure that childhood served him well. To his childhood I'd say,"You listen here, childhood. I'm gonna let him get you all muddied up, scraped up, & maybe even broken a little. I'm gonna make sure he knows what you're there for... He's gonna exhaust you out. Explore everywhere with you. Imagine the strangest made up things because of you. See how far he can push you. You, in turn, better give him a real good, wild time."

Once he thinned out & started walking & babbling more, the questions of adulthood came trickling in. Most of them, I'm sure, were just asked due to concern that he wouldn't be able to apply for his first serious job soon if I didn't start shaping him up. 

"When are you going to make him sleep in his toddler bed?"

"When are you going to stop nursing him?" 

"When are you going to cut his hair?"

"When are you going to give him a sibling?"

"When are you going to potty train him?" 

It's not hard for me to imagine the day in the not-far-off future when he'll shyly enter his kindergarten class for the first time, his flashy plastic backpack proudly pressed against his back, sporting those shiny light-up shoes that take him further & further away from me, away from his babyhood & early years & into the classroom, the school years. 

He will turn one last time to me, as the teacher greets him, and I'll nod in reassurance, murmuring, "Have a good day, sweetheart."

My bottom lip will quiver like it always does when I get emotional & I'll tear up as I turn to go. I'll say a thousand prayers that day for him & I'll feel empty without his little voice chattering to me around the house. 

I'll probably wonder why the hell I ever potty trained him because you can't go to kindergarten if you aren't potty trained. I don't mind changing diapers, they aren't that bad. 

He is already growing up, but I like it. It's the fun growing up, the part when we name stars in the sky outlandish names like, "Que Bonita" and sing to them, and dance around the house with our cheeks pressed tight together to the song, "Never Smile at a Crocodile," and fly kites in the park when there's almost no wind, and have play dates where we make lime green play dough, and wear an astronaut costume four days in a row, and build the Island of Sodor out of sand, and snuggle and kiss anytime we want, and read a thousand different picture books in one sitting. 

This is the good growing up- it progresses so slowly that I have to be reminded it's happening because I don't see it myself. It's the kind that he and I are relishing in daily. 

There will come a day when he won't beg me to come play with him, or sing him songs in my pitchy voice. 

It's ok. I have today and today is long. 

And maybe he'll be lucky enough that his childhood is the kind that never really dies, that it's instilled too deep in him to burn out completely, it will flicker all through his life. 

I hope when all the nuisances (reliance on others, inability to fully communicate or be heard) of childhood fade away, these traits remain in him:

Wonderment. Merriment. Discovery. Trust. Joy. 

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1 comment:

  1. This was awesome! I look back all the time and get sad, because man, my kids grew up too fast! 😢 Where did that time go!? I was busy with life, this or that and their childhood flew right by! Your lucky to have that time now to cherish his childhood! 😊