They slowly grow so fast. I did that on purpose. It’s a weird play on words. No? It’s sort of like the pleasurable pain of parenting. It can be amazing. It can also be exasperating. It can sometimes be both at once. It’s a full-on job that can be demanding as heck by people who don’t always get that they can’t have 100% of your attention 100% of the time. Ok, maybe some of you have had bosses like this, but deep down inside, they know this is untrue. Kids don’t.
Every now and again, when I’m picking up the 100th thing of the day or putting clothes in the hamper that only I can see, something hits me. I get an image of my kids’ fleeting childhood. Today it was noticing A’s beloved hedgehog stuffed animal on a chair in the front room. It has been there for a few days now. Little Hedgehog, her favorite stuffy, a gift from Uncles Peter and Rick when she was nary a few months old. She and Hedgehog were inseparable, sometimes during the day but always at night. And now, here he is, on a chair, all by his lonesome, not even with the glimmering lights of the Christmas tree to keep him company. I know that she will come back to him. She’s barely five so it’s not like she’s done with stuffed animals. It’s just that she needs him less. Sort of like E with her Knuffle Bunny. The same was always true for her with him. She needed him to go to bed. Now, not so much. For E, time with stuffed animals is rushing by more quickly. She will be ten soon. I am glad that she still has a strong love for dolls. But I know that too will change soon.
This parenting thing is funny like that. Each day can feel like a year sometimes. Then you close your eyes and what used to look so tiny in the bed, the baby whose back was filled with your hand, now seems to fill the bed. It can make one take pause, wondering, when exactly did it happen?
There are moments in which they seem to need you for every single thing – putting on socks or shoes or getting something from the fridge. Then suddenly, they are able to turn on the television and navigate Netflix to their favorite show. Alone. I know adults who can’t do that.
The other day, A took my breath away when she questioned me on how Santa got into the house.
A: “Can I ask you something?”
Daddy: “Of course.”
A: “Did you see Santa come in the house?”
Daddy: “No, I was sleeping.”
A: “How did he come through the chimney if something is there?” she said, referring to the gas fireplace.
Daddy: “He didn’t come through that one, silly. He came through the other one. The one near the tree.”
A: “I don’t trust you. That one has something, too.” she said, referring to the flue.
Daddy, sweating a bit: “Well, A. Santa is magic. That is how he gets into all of the homes.”
A: “Magic isn’t real. It’s pretend.”
Daddy: “Santa’s magic is real.” and then I quickly tried to deflect, “Would you like a cookie?”
I don’t think she’s quite pieced everything together. But she’s a bright kid. I often wonder what she will be when she grows up. Forever the inquisitive one, she has always had a need to figure out how things work. Sometimes it is much to my chagrin as she takes something apart that is difficult to put back together. I do love that in her though – her fierce curiosity, her thirst to figure things out.
Tonight, as we were driving in the car, she gleefully proclaimed, “Look, Daddy! The moon! I wish I could go to the moon.”
“Maybe you can be an astronaut when you grow up.”
“Ok. Or I could be one for Halloween.”
“You could be one for Halloween. You could also be one for real.”
“I would like that. I would like to go to the moon.”
“I bet you would. You would make a terrific astronaut.”
E, at the same time, was flipping through Instagram on my phone, giving me her input on the Golden Globes fashions and ads that came up. Louis Vuitton and Prada were in favor. Gucci, not so much. She got to this Burberry ad and squealed, “Good lord. Look at this mess.”
Scrolling again she lands on a Gucci ad, “And this one, she needs some fashion help, too.”
“Well my dear, that’s what happens when Tom Ford leaves Gucci.” I smiled, thinking, “That’s my girl.” So different from her sister. Forever the fashionista. Where A would favor function over form, E wouldn’t dream of it. She has always had an eye for style, and an interest in it as well. She studies people; inspects the world around her with an eye for aesthetics. I wonder what the future holds for her. A career in some field with visual appeal, I would guess. Definitely people driven.
We continued to drive home, the moon following us. I wondered, what will our girls grow up to be. I could guess now, like many parents I’m sure do. I may get it right. I may not. My wish for them is to be who they want to be and be the very best at it. Just not so fast.