I have one son who is straining against childhood to grow up into a teenager. I have another son who is enjoying all things kid-like and may never grow up. My mom tells me that is typical of kids. (The boys are the almost the same age, my son #1 reminds me. They are stepbrothers who have been single children for most of their young lives.) My mom says you can have one daughter who is boy crazy at age 8, while another one plays with Barbie’s until she’s 12. Every kid is different.
So I look at my two boys and mourn the childhood they are slowing leaving behind, yet I am excited for their future teen and adulthood.
Somewhere along life’s path, I left behind the little girl I was and grew up. I’m the sister who cried (and still does) every dang time I hear the song, “Puff the Magic Dragon.” If you aren’t familiar with “Puff,” it’s about a boy who had an imaginary dragon as a playmate. They had marvelous adventures together until one day the boy grew up and left Puff behind. Puff was heartbroken. Just thinking about that song brings tears to my eyes, because as a child I knew I’d have to grow up one day. As much as I longed to date, drive a car, and run away to college, part of me wanted to stay a little girl forever.
Growing up is an inevitable part of life. I know this. It’s easy to accept when it’s your life that’s moving forward and another thing when it’s your children. I don’t want to miss a minute with my boys. I encourage their imaginary friends, light-saber fights and adventures in the backyard tree house. I want them to ride their bikes through rain puddles and play in the mud. Every scrape and scar is a part of their stories. I hope and pray their childhoods are happy. Like a mother bird I want to give them confidence for that flight into teen and adulthood.
I can’t help but think, is it too late to stop the clock for us grown ups? Can’t we keep a little bit of the child inside of us? Can’t we still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and build forts out of blankets? I’ve decided that I’m going to start moving backward now. Maybe F. Scott Fitzgerald had the right idea with Benjamin Button. Age 39 is a great year to begin to grow down (as opposed to grow up.) It’s a good halfway mark in life. When older people say or do immature things, everyone writes it off as old age. If I keep growing younger I’ll be a baby at age 80. That’s perfect. I’ll probably be in diapers anyway.