A few days ago our 12-year-woke up and got dressed, only to discovered that his pant legs seemed a bit shorter than they were the day before. He walked out of his bedroom, looked up at me and said, “Dad, I think I grew last night while I was sleeping.”
He pointed to his ankles and added, “See?”
I did see. I agreed, “Wow, buddy…nice work.”
He laughed, bounced up and down a bit and headed to his closet to find some pants that fit. It’s fun to grow, and this kid is growing like a weed.
While growing is fun for kids, it reminds adults that time flies. When we blink, we run the risk of missing some of it. The challenge is that there’s so much to do and there never seems to be enough time.
Additionally, much of what we do is done so that we can provide for our kids. The most important thing is that our kids know they’re loved, but they do also need food, clothes, a roof over their heads, and much more. Some of the things they need require us to be away from them some of the time.
We’ve all experienced the missing of moments.
Growing like a weed is good because it means our kids are healthy. It’s also challenging, because it also shows us there’s nothing we can, or should try to do to slow this train down.
This week I was standing with a partner at school, looking out the window where a kindergarten students was running around the field collecting dandelions. At a certain point in the spring the Berg front lawn is covered with dandelions. We’ve chosen not to use chemicals for a weed-free yard (no judgment, just a personal choice).
Each year as I watch every other patch of grass in the neighborhood grown lush and green, I lament that ours is speckled with yellow. I do everything I can to keep it short enough to minimize the reality of a weed-speckled yard. In the end, there’s no escaping it, and there’s no hiding it.
Looking out that window, my partner commented, “Aren’t dandelions amazing?”
I asked, “What do you mean?”
She said, “Well, look at how much joy they bring. They’re the first bouquet our children gather, and because they come early, they’re the first opportunity for bees to get pollen.”
She smiled and continue watching the student pick and arrange. The child had an enormous smile on her face and a look of determination and pride in her eyes. My partner went on, “I don’t understand whey some people worry about dandelions so much. So what if they’re weeds, they’re still amazing!” It didn’t take much for me see the point. I smiled with a newfound appreciation for weeds.
Parents and educators, it’s ok to feel nostalgic and even sad as we watch our kids grow, with the realization that in some ways they’re growing away from us. We love them and we want to keep them near. However, their growth is the point. It’s the endgame and the mission of every step along the way.
Thinking of the joy that dandelions bring to the child gathering her first bouquet gave me pause. It brought me to a place where I could celebrate our 12-year-old’s pant legs getting shorter. It had me seeing through a “glass half-full” lens, thrilled that he’s healthy and excited about the journey he’s on…remembering that everything I do is aimed at his wellbeing, achievement and independence.
I don’t think it will ever be easy, but when I shift that lens and consider the wonder of my kids flourishing, even and especially when I realize it means they will eventually no longer be kids, I feel happy.
Two years into a pandemic and ten weeks into a school year where we’re successfully providing our children the opportunity to be learning at school with their teachers and friends, we can take a deep breath, be present in each moment, and celebrate the hard work we’re putting in. Our aim is true and we’re getting it right…for them.
Weeds and all, congratulations on steadfastly focusing on the kids…whatever it takes. The next time you have to order new pants or new shoes because your child grew our of them overnight, consider feeling joyful and patting yourself on the back. Consider letting it remind you that you’re doing great!
Thanks for reading…in it together for the kids!
Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead.