September 1997, Plum Island, Newburyport, MA, the United States of America, Continent of North America, Western Hemisphere, the Earth, the Solar System, the Universe, the Mind of God.
I have a lot of friends who have very young children. Heck, I have friends who are grandparents. Let that sink in for you folks... people my age have grandbabies. It boggles my mind.
But I'm alright with the progression of time. I truly am. I embrace it as part of who we are, and want to love every moment of this walk.
Some of my friends, they are not willing to march along with the second hand.
On the social media scene, folks with the wee ones are often posting pictures of the kids and saying "Please stop growing!"
"Don't grow up!"
"Stay this way forever for me!"
and the like. I find it distressing. I hold my tongue, because I know what they are saying - they love their babies. They love their little ones. They cherish the cute, the small, the new adventures every day. They want to stop time. Freeze this moment.
How many songs are there about "Time in a Bottle," and holding back the hands of time. It is a truly romantic ideal. And when you're staring into the big googley eyes of your little one, with drool on their chin and banana in their hair and they smile that giant two-toothed grin at you, you kind of die, right there.
And you don't want to move along, ever.
But it frightens me, you know why?
If you want a baby, or a toddler, or a young boy, or pre-tween girl to stop growing, stop aging, you're basically saying "die now." And I'm not kidding when I say that. That is what you're saying.
Don't progress past this point, don't grow, don't learn, don't change, don't learn to back-sass, don't learn to apologize and accept responsibility. Don't.
Cease your development, because I like you this way.
And the parents, if I were to say this to them would back track hard and say "no no no no no no that isn't at all what I mean!" I know. But it kind of is. And they need to stop saying that.
Instead, I want to offer an alternative. I want parents to say this.
"Grow up to be amazing, as amazing as you are right now!"
"Be the greatest man you can be when you're big!"
"Can't wait to see what you are like in 5 years!"
"Keep going! You are making me so proud!"
When I look at that picture up there, before we had a diagnosis for Geoff for Nonverbal Learning Disorder, before they both did Shakespeare in the Park, before Jess needed back surgery, before Boy Scouts, Camping, Theater at high school, that's a pretty special little point in time there and one would think "wow. I want to keep these precious babies just like this."
And to be honest, I don't think I ever said or felt that even once.
As a parent, instead my mind was on now, today, and points beyond today. My mind then, with Geoff eating sand and throwing it in the air (I think almost immediately after this was taken he got sand in Jess' hair and she pushed him over) was on what they were going to be, when Geoff would walk, would Jess like to bike ride and hike (no, and yes). I never once imagined Geoff would join Cub Scouts, and stick with it all the way to the end. I never imagined at all that Jess would be mini-me with her sense of humor or everything she likes and loves (well, yeah, I hoped it).
I want parents to look at their babies and say "I love the grown up you will be." And then make them be that grown up.
Train them, teach them, guide them, support them, live as a wonderful example to them even when you make mistakes.
And then when they grow up and they plan on their own wedding, something like this may end up at your seat at the rehearsal dinner.
This image is stolen from my friend Maria who is currently Facebook posting gorgeous pictures from her son's wedding weekend and cracking everyone up.
Looks like Maria did exactly what I hope parents will do.
I know I enjoyed them small. I bet Maria did too. But let me tell you, when you're a grown up and you watch your grown up "baby" do amazing things, the world moves. You see that small Cub Scout, or you see the little leaguer, or the girl in the t-shirt and overalls trying to ride the bike, and you say...