“Okay, now you’re the teacher, and I’m the student.” The next-door girls are over and the kids are playing school in the living room. I’m in the kitchen, eavesdropping.
“But now I want to pretend like I’m 19 years old,” Tate announces.
“But this is third grade. This isn’t high school,” her friend reminds her. They discuss Act Two of their game for a bit, and decide to correct course onward to the teenage years. They’re still in math class, discussing three plus four. But now Tate can walk herself to school because she’s Older.
She’s been like this most of her life, wishing she were older. I remember standing on the balcony of our apartment overseas, discussing her wedding and honeymoon plans. She was four. She also asks me regularly if her latest haircut makes her look older, like ten or something. She’ll be nine in a few weeks.
I was like this, too—in a damn hurry to hurry up with life. In elementary school, I couldn’t wait to walk the halls of middle school. By seventh grade, I was ready for my freshman year of high school. And by junior year, I was mentally decorating my first college apartment.
And of course, you know that by the fourth semester of college, I was wondering who I was going to marry. Those entry-level science classes made it easy to space out and mentally plan my bridesmaids’ bouquets. But first I needed to backpack around Europe, so I’d also pine for the passport stamp and train tickets I was still saving up for.
I didn’t marry right out of college, naturally. I eventually moved overseas, and it’s a good thing I did, because that’s where I met Kyle. But even there, I’d reminisce about the next step—coming home, getting married. I loved cross-cultural life, but I still yearned for the future.
You know, for the next thing.
During our pre-marital counseling, we predicted we’d wait about five years to have children. Of course, Tate was born a few months after our second anniversary. Because waiting.
“The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.” -CS Lewis
When I became a parent, life started whooshing by much faster. A child is born, I blink, and he’s crawling. I turn my head, and then he’s walking, talking, having opinions. And I hear that it’ll keep happening; that life will continually speed by at an alarming rate. And yet, I still yearn for the day when there are no more pull-ups. When all the kids can read to themselves. When the floors aren’t splattered with the evening’s dinner.
But really? That’s exchanging one gift for another. These days I have now, they are precious and full and they matter, just like the ones I’ll have in a few years. Wishing them away is to miss the beauty right in front of me.
“We steal if we touch tomorrow. It is God’s.” -Henry Ward Beecher
Tate’s now playing LEGO, happy to be her age again. Her friends are discussing the benefits of having a household robot. Her younger brother runs into the room, because he has an opinion on the matter, too. The day is glorious, so in a few minutes, I think I’ll kick them out to the backyard, where they play nomads and build forts, and later, she’ll work on her short story about a magical whale who travels in time.
May the kids continue to savor today, and enjoy the bounty of their youth. And may I take notes.