I write a lot about how my girls are growing up too fast, how I wish I could freeze time in certain moments. Like a dumb water balloon fight or a race in the pool with the kids. Just pull a Zack Morris and freeze the frame. I sometimes write about how I am excited for the future with the kids, because I am genuinely interested in who they become, but I certainly don’t want to snap my fingers and have them in their 30s. But, time keeps ticking and there is nothing I can do about it.
As is tradition the Sunday after my daughters birthday we traveled into the North End of Boston for coffee, pizza, a dessert and lots and lots of people watching. But, this year we decided to invite my parents and my wife’s parents. Instead of driving and parking like normal we took the commuter boat into Boston from a South Shore town near us. It was going to be a beautiful day and we figured that we could all be together for a few minutes longer instead of driving in separate cars. I got to talking to my Dad about his job and his idea for when he wants to retire. He mentioned 3 years would be his dream to make it that long. To me, my Dad could work a million more years. He is a little bit of Superman to me. He’s shown no signs of slowing down, other than not being able to read without glasses or not hearing whatever my mom asks him, but I thought that was just how marriage was for all guys.
A day prior we were at my parents house for my daughters actual birthday. The in laws were over, along with my entire family. We were talking about retirement plans or estate plans for my daughters grandparents and I sort of was ignoring the talk when my Mom said “oh, yeah, Mark doesn’t like to talk about us getting older” and she was exactly right. I hate it. I hate thinking about that stuff, probably because I always think of myself as a 12 year old boy. I’m not a man, I’m forever a boy who needs his Dad for advice, his Mom to heal a wound, his father in law to install storm doors, and his mother in law for literally always being around for any help the kids or I ever need. She’s the “oh shit, we forgot to walk the dog, can you call Joan to see if she can help” and she ALWAYS is there for us. I need these people, so when there is retirement talk and stuff it reminds me of an end, an end I don’t wanna see for 50-60 more years. Future me should be able to handle all the things they do for us, I just need another lifetime of them around for me to learn it.
And I know, I am lucky. I know some don’t have the chance to watch their parents get old. I know what I have is something special. But, being completely selfish, I want them around forever.
I was looking for something in my bedroom last week. I opened a nightstand drawer, one that probably hadn’t been opened in a few years. You know those drawers, you store a photo book or some important paperwork that you should never lose and you completely forget about that stuff. I was searching one of those drawers when I found a little tiny booklet. It had a picture of my kids, when they were maybe 3 and 5 or even younger and I opened the small little booklet and it was addressed to my youngest from her Great Grandmother, or as we all called her, Nene. It mentioned something about Merry Christmas on the first page and as I scrolled thru every 5 or so pages there was another little note, “remember the triplets” or “row, row row your boat over the Four River Bridge”. It was all these inside jokes with my kids and their Nene. I got thru the book and with big tears in my eyes I showed the kids what I found. They could barely even look at it without starting to cry. And the same goes with my wife a few hours later. She touched the book and without even opening it started to cry. She knew this was going to be something from Nene just as her fingers touched the book. It was such a great reminder of who Nene was, it was like for a split second she was back in our lives, even though she has been dead for a few years now.
My daughter just turned 15 and she is praying she wakes up and is 16 so she can drive. She has me take her to parking lots so she can get the hang of it. You remember that age, right? From about 15 on you wanted to be older, you wanted to be able to drive, and vote, and buy cigarettes and drink and all those things that you aren’t allowed to do yet. But, as a Dad, and as a still a little boy at heart, I want things to be exactly what they are. I want to be able to drive down my parents street and see my mom walking with her friend, or I want to see my Dad in the kitchen baking cookies. Is that too much to ask?
Everybody stop growing, I’m not ready to be an adult yet…