My son turned 10 yesterday.
The boy is, in many ways, my closest pal. We play catch, shoot hoops, talk philosophy, bash Trump, check out old USFL videos, long for Afros, question dumb movie scenes. We have our own handshake, our own fake smile. When I pick him up at school, he charges toward me, stretches out his hand and yells, “WHHHHAAAAAAAT’S UPPPPPPP!”
When children are born, we hear how fast it goes, but we don’t actually believe the words. Fast? This isn’t fast—the crying at 3 am, the diaper changing, the lunch making, the holiday violin concert, the parent-teacher conferences. Fast? This isn’t fast—the math homework, the coughs and colds and flu and throwups. Fast? This isn’t fast—the annoying animated movies, the whines for more juice, the PTA events, the irksome kid down the block who eats our bars of soap.
Then you blink. And he’s 10.
The aging of our children is the most bittersweet thing a person can ever experience, and there’s no close second. Their aging is your aging; their years are your years. They grow taller, your wrinkles expand. They jump, your back seizes up. You measure your own limited time with the vertical measuring tape used to gauge their growth. Tick, tick, tick, tick. You hear the clock ticking away your life, while simultaneously ticking off their approach from boyhood to manhood.
But … it’s awesome. A baby is a blob. A 10-year-old is a little person. There’s back and forth. He asks about my day. He still wants to snuggle, but also wants to walk, independently, to his pal Nick’s house down the block, turn right, down another block. I love his curiosity, his intensity, his inquisitiveness. I love how my son adores his mother and admires his sister. He’s a good kid, and I well with pride when I see him doing something that dazzles me. I am incredibly fortunate, because I have two children who bring me phenomenal pride.
But I am incredibly sad, because they are growing.