Ticking away, the moments that make up a dull day. Fritter and waste the hours in an off hand way. Those lyrics sound familiar to you? I bet they do, I bet that they even strike a cord with you more and more as life chugs along like a locomotive filled with stress, obligation and dreams instead of grain, lumber and hobos. No matter how long or short the days seem they are steadily plodding along and taking us all with them. I am starting to grasp the passing of the years with an interesting clarity, you see I don’t often feel old when my birthday is brought up, it happens with jaw dropping ferocity on my childrens birthdays though.
Last weekend I ran into an old friend and co-worker JT at the local swimming pool. He is one of those hard to track down types, I hadn’t seen him in years. He remembered my children as diaper bound toddlers and infants, now they verge on puberty. I think what got me most and caused the reflections I now share with you, is that JT asked about the 5 year old boy that used to hang around our work place, my former step-son. He is no longer 5, I pointed across the pool to a tall young man and told my old buddy that the little dude that used to love seeing how movies got to the screen was right over there. The look on his face was priceless. I sat on the edge of ths pool and felt like the last ball bearing on a Newton’s Cradle, JT’s reaction to seeing what over a decade of time had wrought, that little boy was now bigger than either of us, settled in and rocketed down the line sending my own mind spiralling off. I looked at my own kids as they lept off the diving board, watched as my step-kids splashed and played on the foam float toys near by….what the fuck happened to all the days? The first child to ever look up to me as a parent now looks down to me just to make eye contact, the tiny creatures I swaddled and changed are starting to show the signs of puberty. Every child that has looked at me as a parental figure can read and comprehend this article, which makes me wonder if I should make a dirty joke just to test their school yard education but frankly I think they would laugh and I just can’t cope with that right now.
The days have flown by and I am astonished at the amount of years behind me, I remember being in the first grade and thinking ahead to graduating, back then twelve years seemed like forever, thirty two years later I look back twelve years and think that is was just a few days ago that my eldest child was still able to fit between my elbow and palm. I don’t understand the perception of time aside from knowing the mechanics of it and the feeling of it are two entirely different things and in those reflective moments where I look back at how far I’ve come I can get misty eyed over the phantoms of the small children riding beside their olderselves who will one day be similar memories as they are not going to stop growing up. I will point out this violates the terms of the agreements I made with the new borns where they were to stay little forever, I wonder if I can sue? The reality is I can just smile and hug them and look forward to what is to come. It usually takes a few days for me to stop being awed by the growth I see in the kids, in that time I look at each of them and see what was, what is and what will be (not like a time traveler, more like those old milk ads). Once that subsides I feel the guilt of a busy parent, there is never enough time to spend just enjoying the present with them, there is always something getting in the way. Quality time is rare, I have to treasure it because the reality is I don’t get the opportunity all that often, work and school, eats up most of the time I have with the kids, which is not a ‘woe is me’ thing it is the choice I made and I don’t regret it, it forces me to truly apprieciate the time I do get.
A few weeks ago my daughter asked when Nanny (my Mom)was coming to visit, I lied and told her not until Spring Break, this upset her because Nanny is her favourite person in the world, my Mom was very involved in the early years of the kids life and without even a thought accepted my step kids as her own as if there were no other option. Unbeknownst to me my little girl cried herself to sleep that night as I climbed the stairs grinning like the Chershire Cat at convincing this child that she was going to celebrate her birthday a week later with only a phone call. On her birthday I had arranged for Nanny, my Dad and Step-Dad to arrive at the school in time to see the basketball game. I was lucky enough to finish my obligations and be the first one in the door. Behind me the three real surprises, in her excitement to see me she ran across the gym and hugged me tight. I spun her around and positioned her right where I wanted her, inches in front of my Mom. My poor oblivious child went to race back to warm up only to be spun around by me and cone face to face with her Nanny. That was it, absolute tears, all three of us (I may be leaking a bit from the eyes typing this) Right then she was my tiny little girl, she was pure joy. Then she turned around called me a jerk and punched me in the chest, too be fair I earned that. There in that moment, that split second is my life, the child and the adult all in one like a smaller Two-Face, well with out the graphic disfigurement.
That is just the most recent incident, there have been others with all my children whether they be my blood or my choice. I still don’t feel like a grown up, honestly I hope I never do, but the moments when I realize how much time has gone by and how grown up they are I do feel old. When I stop looking back and feeling old I get to look forward to what is to come and that gives me a smile, until I see the legitimately old man I will be. SMH