Children have this funny thing they do: They grow up.
We sometimes fight that fact, complaining, “He’s growing up too fast” or “I don’t want her to grow up.”
People, veteran parents, warn us we’ll wake up one day, be shocked and lament that our children are adults. They warn us we’ll regret things we did or did not do. They warn us we’ll miss what are, today when our children are little, minor or major annoyances — say hand prints on newly washed windows, mud ground into carpet or one more cup of apple juice spilled.
I listen to veteran parents because any fool knows you listen to people who have more experience than you. But while I aim to relish each of my children’s childhood days as best I can with what I have — physically, emotionally, financially, whatever — I decided a while back not to fight the “growing up” part ever again.
Rhetorically: Who am I to demand nature alter its course for my sentimentality? Growing up means my children are living, hopefully vibrantly, and may my own feelings never stunt that process. They are supposed to grow up. That’s the point, isn’t it?
It was my husband who first gently rebuked me. In what I considered play with my toddler, I said, “You will always be my baby. You’re not allowed to grow up.” My husband looked up and said, “Don’t say that.”
I laughed. “Why not? He’s my baby. I don’t want him to grow up.”
“Really?” my husband asked. “Think about what you’re saying. You don’t want him to grow up into a fine young man?”
“Well, I mean of course I want him to grow up into a fine young man. I just ….”