I was by myself, having just dropped my son off at school.
The guy in front of me, was there with his 2 year son. The kid was not yet in school, still learning to talk well and use his words, still learning to walk like an expert, a cutie dressed in a parka, looking around at the world.
As kids often are, the child was both interested and scared of me. The dad was chatting with the clerk, and keeping half an eye on the kid, and the kid was looking at me, looking away, hiding behind his dad, coming back out. I was making faces at the kid. A familiar dance for the father of a toddler.
|My son as a cute toddler.|
The cashier was enchanted by the kid, and gave him extra stickers, and sent him on his way. “Oh wow! Say Thank you!” said the Dad. The kid mumbles a few words, the cashier smiled, the dad smiled, and then they were off. The cashier turned to me, still smiling, and there was a weird transformational moment when she took off her “Isn’t that kid cute ” face, and it was immediately replaced by her more professional “Thank you for shopping at Trader Joe’s” face.
Watching this whole scene play out, I had a sense of deja vu, of already having played this scenario out. But in that scenario, I was the dad of the child, the cute little toddler that everybody loves. And the guy behind me in line, he was just some random guy making faces at my kid. Probably thinking of his own kid, and the times that he had a toddler, and how he misses having a toddler.
The epiphany I had was this- I will never be that dad again. I will never have a toddler again. My son is 8, going on 16, and he’s never going to be that cute little boy. He’s going to be his own self now– cute is not the word, but handsome, or charming, or perhaps even infuriating. He was that cute boy. But now he’s someone else.
I loved being that Toddler dad, and I miss being that toddler dad, and sometimes I long to be that toddler dad. I had it all figured out then. I sometimes feel at a loss now.
I understand that being a dad is a continuum, being a child is a continuum, being a person is a continuum, and it always changes (usually just when you are getting the hang of it.)
When you are a new parent, people tell you “It will go by so fast.” And you don’t believe them, because it’s moving very slowly, and there are thousands of diapers and poopy bottoms and crying babies and non-sleeping nights.
But it goes by so fast….
|My son at age 8. Going on 16.|