I’m finding new words falling out of my mouth on a regular basis.I’ll be chatting away with friend or stranger and they just slip out. Sometimes it’s not even on topic, but here they come spewing out and into the universe. I’m certainly no therapist, but I am savvy enough to see that I’m like a little child who first learns a new phrase trying it out on each person they can toddle up to and gauging their response. So, if you stood in line by me recently or have been “fortunate” enough to share life over an overpriced beverage then you’ve heard me say it, and I’m sorry. Think of it as my coping mechanism.
It began innocently. A simple question with a simple answer. “How old are your children?” To save the liturgy of answering such a question in detaiI, I responded “our youngest is nine and they go up from there.” Wait. “Our youngest is nine…” I only vaguely remember the person’s response, and the rest of the conversation was lost on me.
“Our youngest is nine…”
In the last few years we’ve recounted over and over “how big they are getting” and “how they are growing up too fast,” but something about this was different. “Our youngest is nine…”
This wasn’t just a statement of age. This was the definition of an era.
When our nine year old triumphantly declared this to be his last year of single digits, I knew why this statement lingered with me. Just a few blinks ago we were celebrating making it through dinner without spilled milk and enjoying a road trip without booster seats. We could go into a restaurant without traumatizing a waitress. We were still rotating shifts to ensure clean ears, armpits, and bottoms were achieved at bath time; but we were thankful everyone could pour themselves a drink and find their own shoes….wait maybe that one’s still a problem….
But, our celebrations have changed drastically. We think nothing of them feeding themselves, riding their bikes or even fixing a meal. We celebrate instead them hurling themselves into the air and onto the ground defying gravity with flips, twists and turns from diving boards, trampolines, scooters, dirt bikes, cheer pyramids. We celebrate Mother’s day and Father’s day by showing off their sweet IG posts. We remain firm that we will not SnapChat but show our affection by celebrating #SelfieSunday. We look on feeling helpless when we can’t mend broken hearts with a bandaid and a kiss. We use Google as our best friend when answering questions and helping with homework because their awareness of the world is growing beyond what we ever imagined. A messy food once banned to being eaten outside is now a welcome sight just to have them all crowded into the kitchen.
For those of you still pondering the food ban -- crushed up Ramen noodles eaten from the bag is 100 times worse than a 2 year old with Cheerios.
We encourage new moms to nap when the baby is napping. When she’s wrangling toddlers and in the throes of potty training we encourage her to let the toys scatter on the floor and to sit down cross legged on the floor. When she’s wiping tears as they enter preschool we encourage her to hold their hands, read books with them and explore nature. But now what?
What is the sage advice given when one awkwardly drops the line “our youngest is nine”?
Time is more scarce and imminent than ever before. So, we scale back; make room for unexpected moments that can turn into memories. We give up some volunteer positions everyone thought we would always do. We realize that we may have crumbs on the table and backpacks and sports gear tossed on every surface in sight. We no longer look at car trips as a chance to pop in a DVD and instead we take them for a drive so we can engage them in conversation. Gone are the “playdates” when we get to sit back with some java and adult conversation. Instead, we sit poolside for three hours for the thirteen minutes of conversation we can sneak in with our teenage daughter. We hike, splash, kayak, and climb until we collapse. We learn more about skateboards, video games, and music and sports we’ve never heard of, so that we can connect. We stay up later not for alone time, but for that moment when they still want to talk.
We skip planting a garden, and instead we jump on the trampoline while the weeds grow.
We pray more than ever before and treasure each moment because we realize what it means when we say “our youngest is nine…”
From R7 to you --
Be a blessing.
I would love to hear from you. What is your season?