My children are growing up way too fast–every single one of them, though I tell them constantly to stop it. Recently our youngest has shot up a couple of inches and lost two more baby teeth in front. I have it on good authority that the tooth fairy spent considerable time in his room last week, looking hard at those tiny teeth taped to his bed and then looking wistfully at the not-so-little boy sprawled out in the bed. How is this possible, she wondered. Didn’t this kid just get these teeth yesterday? And now he’s seven and looking oh, so much older with that gap in front. I share her bewilderment. Didn’t he just start kindergarten? And now he’s over 2/3 done with first grade and proudly spouting Spanish phrases and math facts all the time. Weren’t we just working on colors and ABC’s yesterday? A lot must have happened when I blinked.
As if my little boy growing up wasn’t bad enough, his older sister–my baby girl for so long–is suddenly all grown up too. Moving closer to her school has been great. I’m there more; she’s at home more. We’re together more. At the beginning of the school year I thought happily about the three years we had to enjoy before she graduated. But wait, now that three is down to 2 1/3, and again, I’m not sure how that happened so quickly. She’ll be sixteen soon, and then there will be dating, driving, and summer jobs taking her away from home even more than her usual activities do. I miss her already.
And I miss her today. At 2:30 this morning, she left with her choir for competition in Nashville. At the beginning of the school year, I had planned to go with her. After all, we’ve been together at every young women camp each summer, and I went with her on tour to California last year. Traveling with a bunch of teenagers–especially great ones like the group she is in–is fun! And it’s also great for one-on-one time with your child. The times my husband and I have spent traveling with our older children have turned into some of our most cherished memories.
But there is also this principle called independence. And at some point, each of our children have decided they needed a little bit more. And as parents, we have to honor this, encourage it even. It’s the natural order of things, even if I hate it. This was Hannah’s time to decide that, to see if she could go on a trip, fly for the first time, be on her own without Mom. I have no doubt she will do just fine. And so I resisted the urge to secretly buy a ticket and sneak behind her on the plane. This is good for her. And probably good for me too. After all, that 2 1/3 years is going to rush by fast, and then goodbyes will be harder and for longer periods of time.
Until then, I intend to cherish every minute. And right now it’s time to go play a game with my toothless boy.