Today is my son’s 6th birthday. Has it really been six years? Six years since I sat in the O.R. at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital and watched him be delivered? Six years since I introduced my daughter to her little brother? Six years since I had that almost biblical moment of looking down and thinking, “This is my son!”? Where has the time gone?
I almost always try to avoid clichés in my writing, but kids really do grow up fast. I see it in my daughter all the time. A little girl who’s 7 going on 17. She stopped being a little girl a while back and has, for some time now, been this mini-teenager who talks about clothes and friends and stuff that I thought would still be foreign to a seven year-old. Daniel, however, has always been just a kid.
I had a friend who used to always affectionately refer to Daniel as “the goofy one”, and if you know my son you know what she meant by that. Daniel has always been the personification of “a little kid”. He’s always been easily consumed by cartoons, toy cars and any kind of ball he can kick. He’s a black-belt in his own mind. He’s can have long conversations with people that aren’t there, and his mind is his private movie set where he writes, directs and stars in his own the animated, action film.
Yet I can’t help but think of six as being one of those turning point ages. He’s closer now to being a young-adult than to being that infant I held when he was born. He’s more likely to jump a ramp than jump a rope, and I am more and more likely to be a regular at the after-hours pediatric center. I can see it in his eyes. His big, expressive, speak a million volumes eyes. He’s growing up and I need to learn to start letting go.
I always thought the idea of my daughter growing up would be the toughest thing for me as a dad. After all, no father wants to see his baby girl grow up. We have a unique perspective on women, and being a dad reminds us guys that all those women we chased, harassed and partied with all have a daddy of their own, too. It’s a sobering reminder. Yet, Natalie’s sense of maturity and wisdom is comforting and reassuring to me. It’s almost exciting to think of her getting ready for high school and then college. There’s a vicarious thrill of watching her learn, grow and succeed.
With Daniel, I think what weird’s me out about him getting older is that it means I have to grow up, too. Having a son is a build in excuse for acting like a little kid. Wrestling on the carpet, cannon balls into the pool, spontaneously farting – these are all things I get to do with him because he’s a little kid. And even though I know he will still be a little kid for some time, I am reminded today that it’s all slowly coming to an end.
The truth is I look forward to the seeing my children grow and mature into responsible and respectful adults. Yet I want them to immediately stop aging and remain my baby girl and my little goofball for ever and ever. I like to think I’ve done a good job with them so far, and I try to remain focused on them in everything I do. I look back at the past six years and I think about all the wonderful times I shared with them and all the spectacular memories we created together. I look back and see nothing but happy memories and the smiling faces of my son and daughter. I have been a little kid because of my little kids. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun.
Happy birthday, buddy!