In the time it took to go from 5 to 6, you began to really, truly read, you started school, you lost some teeth, you learned to canter on a horse using only your legs to keep you on (please, stop doing that — you’re scaring the crap out of your dad).
You can tie your shoes, reach all the dishes and set the table, write your own notes, stitch your own clothes, hit popcorn kernels with a baseball bat, cast a fishing line into the sea. You can cook your own food, clean your own room, do all your homework and a little extra just to kiss up. You can get yourself ready in the morning and strap yourself into the car.
I hate to say it.
But you’ve become a kid.
Gone are those early milestones of infancy — the delight at merely lifting your head, the first smile, the first roll over. Gone are the joys of babydom: the crawl, the scoot, the furniture-guided wobble around your tiny, contained universe. Toddlerhood, preschoolhood — your first walk, your first run, your first trip up the slide and zooming slip down it, your first swings and skips and extended hours away from me, growing.
How many eons ago these moments all seem now, as if they happened to someone else.
When you were small and fragile, each new milestone was like going from zero to sixty. They were noticeable. We captured them on film. You went from inert to motion. It was difficult to miss.
But now … now everything seems so subtle. I turn to make you breakfast and you read aloud the headlines in the newspaper, asking about bus fares. I go upstairs to get dressed, returning to find you on the couch, ready to go. I leave you in the bathroom, only to discover a moment later you’re already washing your hands — for this, thank you baby jesus.
I wonder if this is how it will be in the moments hence. I’ll turn away and you will change, transform, subtly shift into someone familiar and new every time I turn back around.
You like to sit on my lap and listen to me tell you about yourself when you were younger, when you were a baby. You smile at these tales, as if I’m relating some character in a book. I tell about your first swim, your first scrape, the times you literally stuffed your face with food. You laugh and giggle, and I think now of all these tiny, subtle changes you’ll undergo in the years to come and the stories I’ll later tell you about who you are right now, at just six.
That kid, I’ll tell you, she had quite a year. I’ll tell you about starting school and reading together in the mornings and how you started T-ball and learned to ride a horse, and I will feel the weight of your too-long limbs on my lap, your legs nearly as long as my own, and I will know every day there is still so much more of you to come.
Mike Adamick writes at Cry It Out!