It’s rare to find a parent who didn’t measure the passage of time by juxtaposing pictures of their kid’s first day of school in September with their kid’s last day of school in June.
And then, with a mixture of pride (“He did it!”) and petulance (“He’s growing up too fast!”), they bemoan the passage of time, whine about how fast it’s all going, and bitch about how quickly kids grow up.
I call bullshit.
I don’t begrudge anyone who has shared a school year comparison picture; the first and last days of school are natural picture opportunities and fun moments to memorialize and it’s 2015 and god knows if you don’t share it on social media it didn’t actually happen. Besides, it’s not the photos that bug me, it’s the accompanying commentary.
Tracing the passage of time by the aging of our kids is a little bittersweet, I know, even if I feel a differently than most. You’re certainly entitled to your emotions; unfortunately, I simply don’t believe you.
When you have kids, time doesn’t move quickly. In fact, it often feels like it’s hardly moving at all!
It took my son 35 minutes to get his pants on this morning. Dinner often lasts four hours because he refuses to take his last three bites, choosing instead to repeatedly say that he’s full and that he wants dessert, with the same breath. The bedtime routine often lasts weeks, especially if he wants me to read “Green Eggs and Ham” because holy Jeebus is Dr. Seuss long-winded! It’s nonsense, Doc, maybe trim a few (made-up) words next time.
Large portions of parenting are frustrating and tedious. Don’t you have to be having FUN for time to fly?
It’s easy to look back over big chunks of your kid’s life and pick out the best parts, all the quiet, tender, funny moments you have with them, and happily decide it’s all worth it, but on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour basis? It’s not exactly NOT fun, but there’s hardly a parent alive who would primarily describe it that way. If they do, back away. Slowly.
Sometimes I wish this whole thing would move faster, which is one of the reasons I’m glad Mom and Buried didn’t post a then/now picture (yet?).
(I mean, I sit around and bitch about the terrible twos and vocally wish for the threenage years to end, if I were to suddenly post mopey Facebook statuses complaining that my son is growing up too fast, I’d be a huge hypocrite. You can’t have your cake and eat it too!)
Plus, aside from a “graduation”* day haircut, the pictures don’t look much different. When it comes to newly school-aged kids, their changes are pretty incremental, and harder for outsiders to notice. (Maybe your kid has gone from pipsqueak to puberty, but unless you’ve been force-feeding him GMOs, odds are he’s in middle school, and nobody really wants to see pictures of Frankenstein’s monster to begin with.)
Maybe they’re not growing up so fast after all.
Life always seems to move quickly when you get stuck in routine, and when your kids enter school, routine starts to rule your life. Doing the same thing every day causes the days to blur together into a series of indistinguishable checkpoints: alarm clock, breakfast, get them dressed, drop them off at school, pick them up at school, dinner, bath, bedtime, rinse, repeat. You start sleepwalking through it, ignoring the forest for the trees, until one Thursday you decide to comb through your Facebook photos and throw back a snapshot of your kid from two years ago.
Suddenly all you can see is the forest, slowly being incinerated. Suddenly you start to worry that time really is flying by. But I promise you, the whole “growing up” process is not so fast as it seems. Social media, with its throwback Thursdays and TimeHops and everything else has a way of telescoping time, of eliding or completely erasing all the minuscule moments in between the landmarks – you know, the nitty-gritty details that make up real life. It puts undue emphasis on how quickly it’s all going.
I say don’t believe the hype.
I mean, it’s been five years and my kid still can’t wipe his own ass; it’s not like he’s getting ready to vote.
*the condescending quotes around “graduation” are only applicable in some cases, like “graduating” preschool or “graduating” kindergarten or “graduating” any grade that’s actually mandated by law and isn’t 12th or 16th. Words mean things!