Monday, April 28, 2008

The attack of the milestones

It seems like only yesterday I was hovering over my oldest daughter, thinking to myself, “c’mon, roll over already! What are you, four and a half months old? Do it! Make this milestone happen! Don’t you want to be exceptionally advanced?!?”
And today I’m looking at my new baby, now four and a half months old, enjoying every second that she can’t roll over. I’m loving the fact that she can’t sit up yet and that she’s still not eating real food. I’m savoring each toothless smile and drop of drool, and yes, even each dirty diaper.
Why? Because I am learning more and more each day that they grow up so fast. Too fast.
I realized the speed of growth the other day at the dinner table when my oldest daughter told me about her day in kindergarten.
“I learned a new game at recess,” she said.
I’m expecting Red Rover or TV Tag. Maybe Keep-Away or Chase-the-Boys. Instead I heard, “it’s called Truth or Dare.”
Still keeping my cool and hoping for a preschool-type version of the game where truths range from “what’s your favorite color” to “do you ever pick your nose” and dares involved spinning or jumping, I asked her, in my innocence, to explain how you play this new game.
“Well, someone asks you if you want a truth or a dare. If you pick dare, you have to run the end of the playground or something like that.”
OK, sounds decent enough.
“And if you pick truth, they ask you a question like, ‘do you like a boy’ or ‘have you ever kissed a boy,’ stuff like that,” she told me so matter-of-factly, it caught me off guard.
You know in the old cartoons when a character is shocked so much that his jaw literally falls to the floor and his eyes bulge out like bugles? I think that actually happened to me. A little bit, at least.
My little girl is playing Truth or Dare and worrying about liking boys in kindergarten? In the blink of my eye, she went from being a non-rolling drooler just laying on the floor, to having to fess up by the swings whether or not, at the age of six, she’s been in lip-lock with a boy other than her daddy.
And while sitting there with my bottom jaw in my bowl of spaghetti I started to comprehend that this news, as shocking as it is, is really just another milestone. Another milestone in a long line of milestones that seem to be coming at me faster than I can handle these days.
Maybe it’s the finality in knowing that we won’t be having any more babies in our house, or maybe it’s knowing that once our children go out on their own into school, they are no longer in our safe-haven and protected from these playground games. Or maybe it’s just hard to swallow that our little girls and little boys grow up, no matter how we may try to stop them.
So now I think the only thing I can do to survive these milestones is to enjoy my kids every step of the way, from that first time they roll over, to their first round of Truth or Dare, to that fateful day they get behind the wheel and drive away.
“Hey Mom,” my son, age four, says yesterday, “when I’m old enough to drive, I’m going to get one of those cars with no roofs. A convertible. And then, when you need to go somewhere, you can sit in the backseat and relax and I’ll just drive you there.”
When that time comes, I’m pretty sure I won’t be relaxed, but I do hope I can enjoy the ride.

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