Almost from the moment my children were born, I had this strange fascination with how they compared to other kids their age.
How much did they weigh at birth? How long were they? What age did they start crawling? When did they take their first steps?
I don’t think either of my kids ever wore the month-appropriate size baby clothes. I don’t even know where they come up with size charts for kids because I’m not sure I have ever seen a 6-month-old kid wearing a size 6-month onesie.
I can remember, at each doctor’s appointment, writing down what percentile they were for their age group.
And I couldn’t wait to get out of the office and tell everyone how my son was in the 98th percentile of whatever for his age group. Or whether or not he was the tallest kid in his class picture, or on his T-ball team.
It was as if my kids were in a growth competition with every other toddler on the planet. And they didn’t even know they were competing. They were just eating when they were hungry and progressing as they progressed.
Then I went to work one day and came home to a young man and a young woman. My son is driving himself to school now. He has a job interview later this month.
My daughter is in after-school clubs and likes boy bands. At this rate she may even ask to go out on a date before her 40th birthday. Poor, naïve child.
It seems I went from being fascinated with how quickly they were growing to immediately wishing they would stop growing altogether. I like being needed. I like a loud and messy house.
OK, I like a loud house. I have come to accept a messy house. I call it a “lived in” house because that sounds better than messy. The thing is, “lived in” does not specify who (or what) lives in a “lived in” house. Somewhat domesticated children or wild animals, you be the judge.
I still had more airplane sounds to make as the spoon of food made its way to their little baby mouths. Now they can feed themselves. Even the dog growls at me if I start trying to get too fancy with his dog treat. I had really good airplane sounds, too. They’re just going to waste now.
I remember years ago my son bought a toy that had to be put together. It was a small toy, but you really needed a strong understanding of advanced engineering to put this toy together.
I ended up so frustrated with it that I think he regretted ever buying it. Now, 10-plus years later, the toy was assembled and long since gone, and I would give anything to go back and sit at that dinner table with him and that jigsaw puzzle of a toy.
Every day they need less and less help from me. I guess that means we are doing a decent job of raising them. But every once in a while they could at least pretend they needed help tying a shoe or something, for our sake.
Enjoy the toys that seem impossible to put together. The harder they are to assemble the longer you get to sit there, in your child’s company, and assemble them.
Toby Nix is a local writer, guitarist and deputy sheriff.