Slipping into the future
by Jon Worley
These are the times that don't exist.
When we first moved up from the New South to inside the Beltway, we thought that our lives were speeding up because we were entering the land of type-A overachievers. And we were probably right about that.
But what we didn't know was that our lives were speeding up because our boys were getting older. Toddlers are easy to cart around. While they can be unreliable, they're generally pliable with toys and food. In other words, they don't get in the way. So much.
When kids get to elementary school, they have activities. Sports, instruments, after-school clubs, homework, neighborhood grudge matches (sometimes involving sports, sometimes merely involving bloodshed) and the like. And while it's easy for parents to overschedule their kids, what's more likely is that the kids want (at least to a point) to be overscheduled. Having something to do every minute of the day is the goal. When everything is done, then it's time to drop off to sleep.
Man, I wish that's how it worked for me.
But it doesn't. Adults have to budget time. We have projects and activities that take more than one day to finish. Our older son is just now figuring this out, as a large portion of his schoolwork consists of quarter-long projects. He has to do a little each day. If he doesn't, the crunch time is awful.
Parenting also requires budgeting. One of the first lessons a parent learns is "Choose your battles." Hey, you could get into a screaming match with your kid every minute of every day, but why? Parents have to let kids make mistakes, or the kids will never learn. Constant correcting only serves to annoy parent and child. This is a tough lesson, one that must be re-learned almost every day. Realizing that some things must be re-learned constantly involves wisdom. And while people who have kids tend to die younger than those who don't, they might die with just a smidge more wisdom. I suppose that's a comfort.
In any case, it's already February. Seems like last week it was 2011, and only a couple of years ago our youngest was born (he's now seven). Most days I just try to get through the day without causing physical harm to myself or someone else. Most days I succeed, so most days I'm happy.
But I'm wondering if there's any way to savor these crazy days of childhood before our boys become teenagers and begin the rapid process of leaving home. Our oldest will start high school in four-and-a-half years (class of 2020…geez!), and we'll be pretty much in his rearview by then.
That doesn't make me sad. But I do realize that my life won't be slowing down anytime soon. We could move to Flin Flon and still be harried. Kids will do that to you.
Luckily, kids do bring some bonuses. As they get older, they help take care of the house, cook the odd meal and generally act more and more like people. And once in a blue moon, they'll tell you they love you. Unprompted.
That's the money shot of parenthood. Everything else just flies by all too quickly.
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