He’s my only child (not exactly by choice), so when the baby stage was done, we were done. When he was potty trained, there went the diapers forever. When he crossed over each threshold, he shut the door behind him.
And that’s where we stand right now, right before his school-age years. Closing the door on those first formative years and walking into the childhood phase of homework and recess and literacy.
Into the phase of after-school Little League and first crushes.
Into the phase of a childhood that he’ll ACTUALLY REMEMBER.
As fun as these first four years have been, how much will he actually remember? Will he remember exploring a Disney Cruise ship? Climbing Mayan ruins? The birthday parties I put so much work into throwing for him? He’ll probably remember snippets of memories — memories documented in photos or videos or family-folklore anecdotes. Maybe he’ll recall a smell, or a feeling, unable to place it exactly.
I vaguely remember the smell of the hard clay that my preschool teacher let us play with while waiting for our parents to pick us up. I remember the room as being dark, although I can’t place my teacher’s face or name. I remember getting in trouble for something that I didn’t do.
My real memories start to form around kindergarten, I guess. I remember a few kids in my class and what I thought about them. I remember the song that the “big kids” used to sing in the back of the bus (“My Girl” by The Temptations — obviously from their parent’s vinyl collection.) I remember my bedroom and backyard (or was that just because of home movies?) I remember a recurring nightmare I had at 5 or 6 years old.
And so now we’re entering the childhood phase of memories.
Of growth spurts, awkward stages, and math.
It’s all coming, right through that door, and there’s no stalling. Because I don’t have another kid (and probably never will), life just keeps chugging forward with each phase feeling unfairly short.
So walk over that threshold, my love. You’re ready.
Just don’t close the door too hard behind you.