Waking up in the morning because my youngest walks to my bedside — as long as it’s after seven o’clock — is one of the nicer ways for me to be brought out of sleep. She often wants to hop into bed with us and maybe watch some PBS Kids. Occasionally she comes just to say hi and check in and then goes somewhere else. This would be Katey. She’s our early riser. And by early, I mean she’d come in at six o’clock in the morning on a regular basis if we didn’t consistently send her back to her bed whenever she tried it. And make no mistake, she does try.
This is one of the more curious parts of parenting, in my experience — the continuing cycle of testing the boundaries. I’m usually surprised when I wake up one morning to find that one or both of my girls has suddenly, seemingly, forgotten a particular rule of the house. And we rarely make up brand new rules. Therefore, I’m puzzled by their confused state when I tell them that, no, in fact you may not jump on your bed. Still.
It’s just one night, and poof! their memories are suddenly wiped clean when it comes to that subject. Really?! Are you sure, Mom, that you’ve told us this before? Yup. Dead sure. Check with Dad. Unless the same phenomenon has erased his brain cells, too. Let’s check, shall we?
Our most recent challenge (this week) has been that whining has reared its annoying head once again. Only with one of the kids though, which makes it only half as annoying, I suppose. But, boy does she give it her all. And I’m hoping that by this time next week, she’ll have given up.
I do actually know that there’s a reason for this strange occurrence. I understand that they’re testing the boundaries to be sure they haven’t changed. I get it. It doesn’t keep me from being caught unawares every time, though.
This week we were visiting with friends. Their kids are younger than our girls, and I had the sudden realization as I watched all the kids playing together that Allyson, our oldest, suddenly is that older girl. Tall and mature, looking out for the littlest ones. This was, as I just said … rather sudden. Wasn’t it just recently that Allyson and Katey were the babies, the little ones? And now to see them in this new light is exciting and odd, at the same time.
Where did the time go? Parents have been wondering this for generations, I’m sure. Why then is it such a surprise that the children are grown before we realize it’s happened? Here’s what I think: It’s because from the time we have our kids the days can drag, and all the while the months and years are gaining momentum. I, for one, was fooled because the hours and days could be enormously long. Tediously so. You know how it is when someone’s sick or not napping like we’d like them to, or they’re arguing with siblings … and on and on. I therefore never expected to turn around and so quickly see my little girl towering over younger kids, speaking to them like I spoke to her not so long ago — like a little child.
My friend said she could see my daughter being a good babysitter in years to come. And suddenly, I could see it, too. How very odd. Kind of reminds me of Paul Simon’s song, Old Friends. He talks about himself and his friend becoming old men. I’m reminded of these several lines:
Can you imagine us years from today,
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange to be seventy.
How strange, indeed, to watch the years go by so quickly that I barely realize they’ve gone.