It was a special day when my daughter went to school for the first time. I had a full head of hair and she had a gap in her smile. I don’t remember everything about it, but I’d like to think she held her mother’s hand at the bus stop at the far side of the apartment complex we lived in at the time.
Even if I don’t remember the details, I remember the day like yesterday. I remember her stamping her foot and yelling “Daddy!” when I didn’t follow her instructions on how to properly play with her doll house. I remember the first time I heard her laugh, at a Pooh ornament in the Hallmark store in Reston, Virginia. And I remember that her first word was Mama and her second word was Barney.
I remember being sick when we went to the Daddy-daughter dance and how she didn’t care, as long as she was there and I was with her. I remember her dressed up like a southern belle at Cypress Gardens, strolling the grounds. And I remember how much we enjoyed the U2 concert together in October 2009.
I remember her last day of school, too. She got up early so she could paint IB Done on the back window of her car. I got up early and toweled off the window so the paint wouldn’t run. And then she left. She still has tests (a lot of them), but she will never regularly attend high school again.
This young woman has been around our house for longer than I have been the person I am now. I can’t imagine what life would be like when she’s not here. But in a few very short months, she’s not going to be here any more. She’ll drop in from time to time and this will be home, but her heart won’t be here any more. Not completely.
It seems like just a blink ago, I was driving her to middle school and we were checking out what this IB thing might be like in high school. That means just a blink from now, my thirteen-year-old son will be getting ready to graduate and eagerly awaiting the next big thing.
And that’s the way of things.
It’s a wild ride, emotionally, from pride in what we’ve given them as a framework to start from, to fear of what life will be like when it changes. Anticipation of not trying to plan the logistics around kids’ activities. And a little wistfulness at the primary purpose of our lives for the past 18 years coming to the end (not right away, though).
What does this have to do with writing? Not much, except that your kids will cherish their memories of your time with them. Even when they’re teenagers who are too cool to dwell on memories like singing American Pie to them to time how long they brushed their teeth. Maybe writing some of them down isn’t the worst idea.