Do you ever just wish you could sling some cheap Target backpack over your shoulder and get on the bus with your kids? But not as you — not as Mom or Dad — but as one of them? As a kid again?
I wish it so hard sometimes.
Violet is 7 now, Henry 5. And little Charlie is just 2, but he’s at a childcare center three days a week, so he’s a part of all this, too.
Our lives as parents are so rooted in our children’s lives that, even early on, we begin to anticipate their next moves in almost any given situation. Their mannerisms, their idiosyncrasies, the way they walk across a room — all of it — everything about who they are and what makes them THEM, we develop this sixth sense of understanding it. And recognizing it. And loving it so damn much.
And then daycare or school comes along and suddenly we’re saying goodbye to them. For hours a day. It’s the reality of modern living and there’s no reason to feel guilty. Hell, it’s good for all of us. It builds character. It allows life to flow right in and immerse our kids in so much more than we can likely provide them on our own.
The curiosity is killing me, man!
I want to have lunch across from Henry in the cafeteria. As a classmate! As some snot-nosed 5-year-old in a Ninja Turtles sweatshirt. I want to ask him why the sandwiches he brings from home smell so nasty!
“My dad keeps hiding these pickles he likes underneath the turkey!” I want to hear him say that to me.
Then I want to tell him that my Mom always packs me these stupid Triscuits instead of Pizza Pringles even though I beg her to make the switch. Then I want us to be best friends. Or maybe argue over whose crayon version of Sponge Bob is better. Or giggle when the teacher hollers at us for laughing out loud at nothing at all.
Violet. I want to watch her talking to the other little girls in her class. Immersed in the chatter of free time or the silent lined-up walks down the hall, I want to be 7 again, and standing there right behind my daughter. I know you so well, kiddo. But I hardly know you at all when you’re sitting at your group table working on a project with the boy who likes to tease you. Or with the one who you talk dinosaurs with until the teacher howls, “Shhhhh!”
I wouldn’t care what kind of kid I’d be, given the opportunity. Magic is magic, and I’d never be fickle. Make me a little chatterbox youngest of six. Make me a shy only child. Make me a scaredy-cat. Or make me a bit of a jerk. Just get me in there, in the guise of a classmate, so I can watch my flesh and blood living their strange, beautiful life at school.
Perhaps the best thing would be getting to hang with Charlie Hustle. He’s such a cool kid. But he’s a wild man, too. How does it all play out?! I’ve spied on him a little but it’s never the same, you know? You can’t be standing there hiding behind a window or whatever and know the feeling that I’m getting at. I want to be a toddler again! I want to be a toddler with boogers on my sleeve and dried snack time yogurt in my hair. I want to walk over to Charlie in the middle of the playground and pop him in the ass with a thin twig, just to see what he does!
Oh, what I’d give.
Oh, what I’d give to sit down on the reading rug at story time, my eyes all 1 PM droopy, my belly full of PB&J. Oh, what I’d give to be sitting there next to one of my kids as the teacher starts reading Rosie Revere, Engineer, to look at them sitting right there next to me, and I’m just another kid in their class.
Oh, what I’d give to be able to catch my son or daughter’s eye as the teacher tells the story.
To catch their eye and smile.
Then just to know the feeling if they smile back.
Or if they stick out their tongue.
Either way, kid.
Either way.More On