There will come a time when your youngest child is no longer young. And you will look back and wonder where the time went.
You will see them, grown and maturing, graduated with a cap and gown (or at least, hopefully) and they will be on their own,—they’ll be on their way into an entirely new life without the need for parental consent or supervision.
Maybe they’ll live close or maybe they’ll move away. Perhaps they will be married. Maybe they will become parents. If not married or acting as parents, maybe our children will move forward and find their way along a path which they have chosen for themselves.
Eventually, a time will come when our children are no longer children. And no matter how we see them; no matter what the memories are of the day when they came into the world, alas, a day will come when our children will be fully grown.
There will come a time when you look back, as I am now, and you will remember when your youngest was small enough to be held in one arm. And you will come to the conclusion that yes, the life of our children is only lent to us for a short amount of time.
Eventually, age will do its thing. They grow. Or, more accurately, children will outgrow their younger selves. They will move on. And they will speak in such a way that makes you laugh and think back to a time when they spoke the way little children do. And you will miss this. You will smile and you will feel. You will recall a time when the world was still new to them (and to you as well) and you will tilt your head backwards while rolling your eyes and looking upwards to the sky, like, “Oh my God. It seems like this just happened yesterday.”
And then you will have emotion because at the same time, it will feel like lifetimes ago. And you will wonder where the time went. You will wonder when the gray hairs came in. You will wonder when the wrinkles began and think back, like, “Oh my God, it seems like it was only yesterday.”
You will look back and remember stuffed animals, like I am now, and think about the names our children gave them, like mine did with a little stuffed bulldog named Buster.
You will look back in complete and total amazement and recall the times when you read bedtime stories about names like “Silly Sally.”
And you will smile (like I am now) thinking about the key phrase in this story, which went like, “Silly Sally went to town, walking backwards upside down.”
And a piece of your heart will warm and a piece of your heart will weep. A piece of your heart will cherish every bit of this and another piece will regard the time, like, “Oh my God. Where has all the time gone?”
The loan of our children’s life is so incredibly short. Before we know it, they reach the age where they go for their learner’s permit. And next, they’re driving. Then they’re mobile. They’re at a new chapter in which they can explore the world.
And this will be hard because we’ll want to protect them but due to circumstances beyond our control, we cannot stop them or protect them —no matter how badly we wish we could bubble-wrap the rest of the world —life will continue to happen, which is far beyond our control.
Sometimes, as helpless as this feels, all we can do is love and watch from afar and be there whenever the opportunity arises.
I am thinking about the time when my young child fit in my arm. She fit between my wrist and the inside of my elbow. I could hold her this way, in one arm —and she would look up at me in amazement, unaware of the life that lay ahead of her.
She liked certain things back then.
She liked to sing “The wheels on the bus go round and round.”
She liked shows that I think back upon now and shake my head, like say, “The Teletubbies,” with Tinky Winky, Dipsey, La-La, and Poe.
But time is inevitable, age is eventual, and the movement of life is above all things; unstoppable.
The land of make believe is no longer the same. Our children’s ability to wonder about simple things becomes older and more complex.
Our children grow. They become adults. And next, they leave our nest to create a nest of their own. And if we are lucky, which I hope we are, we can see them as they are, happily living their life, which is all our intentions would be: To be happy, to be healthy, to live well, live long, laugh a little, love a lot, dance like no one is watching, and find the place where they belong. This is a parent’s wish.
I am thinking about another lesson in life. However, this lesson is not mine. No, this is something I read in a book that was written by one of my favorites. This is from Robert Fulghum. This is taken from his thoughts in a book called, “All I Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.”
I believe this chapter comes somewhere around page 96. This is where Fulghum writes about an article he read about the Solomon Islanders. He discusses the tribesmen and that when a tree is too big to be chopped down with an axe, the tribesmen with special magical powers approach the tree at dawn.
They do this at sunrise and then they yell at the tree every day for thirty days. Eventually the tree falls. The reason is all the yelling kills the spirit of the tree. Supposedly, the Solomon Islanders say it works every time.
Fulghum goes on to discuss the things he has yelled at, like televisions and lawnmowers, electric things and things in which we have no control over.
I believe we can all relate to this.
I yelled at my tools this morning, I yelled at the computer for a good 15 minutes until I realized I was pushing the wrong button, and then almost silly enough and sounding somewhat clumsily, like a big oaf, I apologized to the computer (like an idiot.)
Fulghum writes about an afternoon in which he saw his neighbor have a good, long argument with an inanimate object.
I think we all do this.
Televisions and machines and all non-living things do not change nor will they work better because we yell or even if we kick them.
However, the Solomon Islanders have a very good point. If you yell at a living thing, the yelling will eventually kill their spirit, said Fulghum.
And I say if you yell too much, eventually, no apology in the world can rekindle the relationship of a life where love is supposed to be paramount.
And more importantly, the time wasted on resentment or anger can never be regained or resubmitted. It’s over and done with,
I think there needs to be a new dynamic. I think there needs to be a new line of communication. Otherwise, we will look back and think of how we never speak to our children or loved ones anymore and wonder why.
What we fail to realize is our words and their volume have weight. Regardless to our intention, we seem to forget that words are and will always be open to interpretation.
This means even if we had an entirely different intention with the things we say, on the opposite end is an interpretation we had no idea about.
I write this for you, the new parent. I write this for the older parent. I write this for the grandparent. I write this for you, the child, and in the realization that yes, we all yell sometimes.
We all say things we do not mean. We all wish we could have a “Do-over,” or a “Take-back,” but life only allows for just so many.
We do things wrong. Above all things we do wrong, oftentimes, we forget that time is always ticking.
The window of opportunity continuously closes until it is finally shut and sealed for the rest of eternity.
Our life, much like our children’s life is only a loan, which means time is of the essence. Yelling only works at ballgames, and even then, yelling only works so much.
Words have impact. Time does not heal all wounds. Know this; know that a day will come and you will look back at your life and you will look at the life of your child or children. Know that age happens and that while young, this is the time to make memories because time and life can be pulled away at any given moment.
As kids, we believed that tomorrow was an endless number; but nothing is endless, except for time. The only thing endless is love, memory, and the fact that yes, we were here, together, and nothing in the universe can ever change this fact. This above all truths is the truth that I will hold most sacred,
I had a dream last night about a young girl that is no longer young. She will be something one day (not that she isn’t something now.) What I mean is she will be a mother, perhaps. Or maybe she will travel the world. Maybe she will be an artist. Maybe she will be a businessperson. Either way, this path does not belong to me. This path belongs to her.
I just want to see it. I just want to see the woman she becomes. I want to see the life she creates for herself and be like, “Oh my God. I remember when she fit in my one arm.”
I had this dream I received a phone call from her. She was older and talking to me about her family. She was sitting in the kitchen of her home, which was all hers. And I was old. I couldn’t hear everything she was saying. But I know she was telling me about her life.
Her life . . .
(Think about this for a minute.)
God, she was so small once. I created her.
And now she is this big thing, free to live, free to form her own opinion, and beautiful as ever, of course.
Be mindful, I say. Time is always of the essence.
Be mindful of the words and the arguments.
Be mindful that time is so infinitely small, in which case, we need to love every minute we have because in an instant, time is gone, and it is never to be returned—just valued, and this, my dearest creation, is a lesson we all need to learn
In the end of his chapter about the Solomon Islanders, Fulghum writes about what yelling does.
He writes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will break my heart.”
Much like time, our heart is truly irreplaceable. It is best that we care for it and that we care for each other because time is only a loan—and remember, all loans can come with interest rates.
Before we know it, we could find ourselves paying out for the time we missed, and wishing we could make it right.
And there we are, saying things, regretfully, like “Oh my God. That was so long ago. Why didn’t I just say ‘I’m so sorry and I love you’ when I had the chance?”
You are the most beautiful thing that I have ever created.