Friday was one of those days I’ll remember for a very long time. The kind of day that wasn’t terribly uncommon when the kids were younger – back when we could say, We’re going to go see this movie or hike that trail or go on a picnic, or whatever and the announcement would be met with enthusiasm and anticipation. These days, however, trying to find a movie or an activity we can all agree on has proven nearly impossible. Turns out 17-year-old boys don’t like the same things 14-year-old girls like and neither of them care for what mom and dad prefer.
Todd and I both had Friday off and the forecast didn’t call for a speck of rain, a rarity these days. So we jumped in the car and took off for North Wales where we started our adventure with a great lunch at Chili’s – the kids’ choice. Down the street from the restaurant we played miniature golf, swung bats in the batting cages, raced each other on the Go-Kart track and just generally had a ton of fun.
In fact the good times started on Thursday. Just hanging out together, eating together, playing together, watching movies together. A lot of “together”. And I’ve cherished every second of it. Today after church the kids left for a Christian teen conference for a week.
How is it Taylor only has one year of high school left? He’s much closer to being a man than a kid. When did that happen? And why does Katie have to be a freshman in the fall? My baby will be in the same place as my firstborn before I’ve had a chance to catch my breath. And then what?
It used to be they were dependent on me for their fun. I was at home with them from the time they were very small and I enjoyed playing with them. The pool, the zoo, an easy hiking trail, the water park, etc. In fact, sometimes they were my excuse to get to do something fun like the science museum or the newest Disney movie.
When the weather was cold I would brew a pot of tea, make some shortbread and set the table nicely for an after school snack. During summer rains we would camp in the living room, eat Popsicles on the front porch and sometimes even play in the rain. One year we had a pretty good snow, but both kids were sick and couldn’t get out to play in it. So Todd and I loaded up a big bowl with snow and let the kids build little igloos and castles on cookie sheets in the kitchen.
Trips to the park, swinging into the swimming hole on an old rope, the weekly stop at the library, camping with just us or friends, pulling them in the double wagon, reading in the hallway while a storm raged outside, cuddling on the couch and watching the latest Disney release…
My mind has been filled with these precious memories and my heart with a mixture of sadness that those days are long gone and a joy at the prospect of what these children are becoming. Sometimes I wish we could jump in a time machine and go back to those treasured moments. But at the same time I love the people they’re growing into and enjoy when we do get to hang out together.
I am thankful to God beyond measure that Todd and I have good relationships with our teenagers and that sometimes they like spending time with us. I’m also thankful for the friendships they have with other great teenagers, the majority of whom share the same values, morals and take their faith seriously. It’s no myth that friends make the person.
There is almost an urgency to spend as much time with them as I possibly can because it seems very limited. At the same time, however, I’m thrilled they both have the opportunity to go away this week and pray not only for their safety, but also for their spiritual growth.
When your kids are little you hear time and time again, “Enjoy them while you can because they’re grown in the blink of an eye.” Well I have enjoyed them from the very beginning and it does seem as though I’ve just blinked. The night before Taylor started kindergarten I laid in bed and cried because, “Tomorrow is kindergarten, then it will be college and before you know it he’ll be married and living somewhere else.” A little dramatic, yes (and Todd does still tease me about it) but not so far fetched.
This evening we had another break in the rain so I took Sookie to the park for a long walk. Families with little ones were out in abundance, making those bittersweet memories even sharper. I wanted to call out the above cliche to make those parents understand how fleeting this beautiful part of life is. But it’s not something you can truly grasp until you’re at the other end.
So Friday we played miniature golf and stopped keeping score after the 12th hole. We swung bats in the batting cages – my first time since the great breast cancer debacle of ’05 (and I can still smack a ball). We drove Go-Karts and I managed to spin Taylor, run him into a wall and stall him. But mostly we just had fun and made a few more memories to add to the stack.