Early one morning I spied my youngest son sitting on one of the dining room chairs eating breakfast, his toes easily touching the floor. For some reason I stopped and stared. Something about his posture and those long, lean legs … for a moment, backlit by the morning sun, my ten-year-old red-headed boy looked like a teenager.
Now, I was a little groggy, which may have added to the effect, but the thought of him that much older made my heart skip a beat.
I didn’t mention it to him at the time. I just moseyed across the room to make my way into the kitchen.
But later in the day, I told him.
“This morning when I saw you sitting at the dining room table, I thought, ‘Wow, he looks just like a teenager.’”
I continued, “I feel like I’m just going to *blink* and you’ll be all grown up.” I squeezed my eyes shut and popped them open wide for dramatic effect. He laughed. I am sure that he thought that his Dad just being the goof that he always is.
I blinked again and then squinted, as if evaluating him. “Let me see…hmm…no, thankfully I was mistaken. You’re not a teen.” I exhaled. “What a relief! You’re still my boy!” He laughed some more.
I leaned in and whispered, “Stay young son…as long as you can. Don’t rush it”
He leaned forward and admitted, “I’m not ready to grow up just yet, either.”
“So, good,” I said to myself, “We have time.”
But as I walked away, I knew the truth.
I had already experienced it with my two oldest. They had grown up so fast and I think the changes in their life somewhat tempered the impact on my wife and I because we were in denial and by the fact that we still had two young children at home. The empty nest was a long time away and we fooled ourselves into thinking that we had time.
Not so long ago, even though I knew it was coming and I said that I would be ready, I wasn’t prepared for it to happen. Make no mistake, I didn’t want it to happen…I fought it long and hard… but the fateful day came…and I blinked.
The red-headed son of mine would now be gone and there was nothing that I could do about it. He has moved out and is going to college and living on his own. My daughter, the oldest, would be married for four years now and I am sure grandchildren are to follow. My oldest son, just turned 24 and is making plans for the rest of his life.
Now I find myself buying graduation invitations and senior pictures for our baby girl. She is talking about college and having a career where she could work with animals.
What happened? Time stood still when they were just babies…
I blinked and the days flew by so quickly…
Days where they were in warm fleecy pajamas, snuggling with blankies and loving on tattered stuffed animals.
Days filled with crayons, snack bowls, sippy cups and Chutes and Ladders.
Days where dad is the hero that can fix anything, mom is the one who takes care of and can make everything “right” in life.
Days of childhood innocence.
Christmas days that were magical and you believed that nothing would ever change.
Days of scrapes, bruises and heartaches that only mom and dad could make better.
Days of soccer, volleyball, basketball and baseball games.
Days when it’s, “dad can I borrow the car?” , Senior Prom and a visit from a young man where I am asked if he could “have my daughters hand in marriage”.
It happened in a blink…it happened in a flash…it happened in the time it took to look back.
I don’t want to miss even a second more of this… I will try to hold on tight, but there’s no stopping time.
It’s just a blink away…