Where This Meets That
A hard truth about parenting is that, from the moment you first bring your children home from the hospital, you’re teaching them how to leave.
My daughter Maddie has always been a bit of an “old soul,” wise beyond her years. She so internalized the first time I ever had to smack her hand for something she was doing that the next time I told her “no” on something, she smacked her own hand.
In fact, at only two or three years old, she would literally put herself into “time out” as a consequence when she did something wrong!
Along with her innate desire to learn, she’s always exuded a deep, sage wisdom, and I’ll admit that I’ve called upon her counsel more than once over the years. Many times, she’s knocked me flat with what she had to say.
One such time came a few weeks before her fourth birthday. I had just seen the kids off to bed when Aidan, then age seven, asked me out of nowhere to rock him and sing him a lullaby. He’s always been a big boy, and by this time, he had grown so much that rocking him was awkward and made us laugh. Then, as I sang, I recalled a time when I had rocked him as a baby and first realized he would one day grow too big for me to hold and rock anymore.
With that memory, my laughter of holding this now big boy in his dark room turned bitter and began to choke my singing. That day was growing near.
I stammered through a couple songs with him, told him how proud I was of him and how much I loved him, then gracefully fled his room.
I felt like I’d just escaped before making a messy, snotty fool of myself, but as soon as I left his room, Maddie was waiting in her dark room and called out, “Daddy, can you please do that for me, too?”
Well, how could I say no?
As I held and rocked her and sang to her, a couple tears finally escaped. They rolled off my cheeks.
“Daddy?” Maddie said sweetly, “Something just landed on my face.”
I told her it was a tear, and she asked in a near-whisper, “Does this song make you sad?”
“Yes,” I said, “and happy, too.” I choked the explanation, “My babies are just growing up so fast.”
With that, she turned her face inward to my chest, gave me a big, consoling hug and said, “But we’ll always stay your kids, forever.”