Every once in while my wife is seized with anxiety about how quickly our son is growing up.
I can’t deny that it’s moving fast. He went from being two months old to holding conversations in the blink of an eye. He’s grown from the size of a turnip to a little person almost too big for his stroller in what felt like three weeks. That’s just the way it goes, I guess. One of the most accurate stereotypes regarding having kids is how quickly time passes, and it’s a stereotype for a reason: mental laziness. But it’s also true.
But whereas my wife gets sad about seeing her son develop, I see things a little bit differently.
I like watching my son get older. And not just because it gets him closer to moving out!
Of course I’m gonna miss the days when he liked to climb in bed with us – not to mention the days when he could still actually fit in our bed without squeezing me off the side – and still liked being hugged, and called us Mommy and Daddy. And these early stages of his speech development offer some incredibly cute moments that will eventually evaporate into correctly enunciated words and legitimate sentences and neither I nor Bill Cosby will have any more material.
Plus, I am definitely nervous about his tween and teen years; I figured out pretty quickly that parenthood just keeps getting harder and harder and I’m not sure how prepared I am for the James Dean portion of the gig. Babies are inconvenient, definitely, but compared to toddlers they are a walk in the park. I have no doubt in my mind that when he’s 16 I’ll be dying for the days of “Thomas the Tank Engine” and his insipid brethren, but that doesn’t stop me from shaking my head at what often seems like a ten-year-old in a two-year-old’s body.
That said, I truly can’t wait until he’s old enough to share my favorite movies and TV shows and music and books with me. When I can teach him how to play catch and swing a baseball bat and ride a bike and drive a car and unhook a bra and pass a drug test. Not to mention to use the toilet by himself and brush his own teeth and hold my iPhone without breaking it.
More importantly, though, I can’t wait to see how his personality develops: what he’s like, what he likes, who he likes, etc. He’s going to be entirely unique – provided I don’t screw him up by burdening him with my own hang-ups and peccadilloes and fear of being kidnapped and weird shaving-based turn-ons… I’ve said too much. The point is, it’s impossible to guess what the two-year-old who loves “Yo Gabba Gabba” and hates getting his hands dirty will be like in twenty years… unless he’s a pothead, in which case he’ll probably still like “Yo Gabba Gabba.”
Detective Munch has a lot of personality already, but it’s basically developing in a vacuum. He’s still constrained by the limits of his experience, the scarcity of his interactions with many people besides his parents, and his inability to access or understand much of the world outside our home. It’s going to be a while before he’s truly independent, and judging by today’s youth, we likely won’t be entirely free of the little parasite until we’re on Social Security.
I am looking forward to meeting my son as a young man, but his life is already moving too quickly for his mother. I am constantly waiting for the next milestone, or at least an easier phase (not gonna happen), but when Mom and Buried considers how quickly he’s growing up, she gets upset, and the tears flow.
Of course, our differing perspectives aren’t exactly black and white. Despite my awareness of the fact that he’s still only two, and despite our often different approaches to parenting, I’m not immune to the sadness my wife feels when she compares the tiny little guy that used to curl up on her chest to the mini-person who is suddenly almost too big for his crib. And vice-versa, she is as excited as I am to see who our son will be when we’re through with him, and he’s through with us.
The whole “growing up fast” experience is definitely a little bittersweet for both of us, as it surely is with most parents; but right now Mom and Buried leans more towards the bitter and I list slightly more towards the sweet. Seriously, these tantrums are no walk in the park and, besides, I had a child, not “Haley Joel Osment in A.I.” I’m not one of those people that only wants the puppy; I want the dog too!
Through the years I’m sure we’ll occasionally swap perspectives – for me it will probably be around the time he starts hating my guts – but right now my wife is a little scared of what we’ll lose as our son grows up, and I can’t wait to see what we’re going to gain.
I hope it includes money. He’s getting expensive!