It’s late March, which in our family means, we’re smack in the middle of Birthday Alley. Tiny and Middle Weasel have birthdayed already, Eldest has her birthday very soon, and Mrs Dim is next in line shortly after that. Like any parent, as my kids age, I can’t help thinking about the passage of time.
Eldest Weasel is now just about the same I was when she was born. It seems an impossibly long time ago – so many unimaginable things happened between then and now. For one thing, I had no idea we’d move to Canada before she turned twelve.
When I was a kid, I was vaguely intending to become a motorcycle stuntman (as Mrs Dim reminded me recently). This was unwelcome news to my school careers advisor, who also had no idea how to advise me to get work in television (production, rather than media stardom). It seems cruel of me to blame my lack of career on that guy, whoever he was. I mean, he did point me to an enormous book titled “Careers” and suggest I look in that for something about TV. And hey, I DID work in tv for almost a whole year, so maybe he was good at his job?
When Eldest was born, and we were allowed to leave the hospital, we sat her on the coffee table in our living room, in her car seat/carrier. It seemed a little surreal that we were being left to look after this tiny person with no supervision. The three months that I would have Mrs Dim on hand before she went back to work did also not seem very long. That wasn’t the stretch of time Mrs Dim was concerned about though.
“It’s just going to be no time at all before she’s eighteen and off to university!” she said.
Well, she was wrong. It was eighteen years. Yeah, from this end of things, those eighteen years seem to have passed in a flash, but I made a point of remembering them. We really lived them. Maybe I had the better part of the deal, being the primary caregiver for the kids – my time with them as tiny people wasn’t diluted so much with concerns about the job. I mean, I did get some kind of work during those years, but nothing that meant going to an office, or meeting performance evaluations. I’ve always said that raising kids IS a tough job, but it’s not A job. I had my moments of panic and frustration (and yes, trips to the emergency room, or sleepless nights etc etc), but I was always glad to be doing that rather than a nine to five.
We never (I don’t think) pictured our kids in their future incarnations. There was never an image of Tiny Weasel as a lawyer, except as a comedy sketch brought on by her Psych Ed evaluation. I don’t know how people can pretend to know what their kids might want to be, want to do for real. Eldest had a bunch of ideas along the way, and the one I would have put money on – veterinarian – got jettisoned when she had the chance to do work experience at a vet’s. Yes, she was (and is) great with animals. She loves them, and they seem to love her. But that just makes dealing with animals in pain even harder. She’s happy on her new track, and I have little doubt that she’ll find a great job to enjoy.
Since, right now, they’re all happy with the way they are heading, I don’t have a problem with my kids growing up. I do occasionally miss the little moppets that used to stumble around the place, but I don’t miss the endless rounds of indoor play areas, swimming lessons, school projects. I don’t miss keeping an eye on the clock to be at the playground to pick them up at the end of the day (even though, yes, I do still occasionally dash out to collect one or two from work). See, although that stage may be past, I’m still a Dad. Always will be. At some point they’ll stop asking me to fix the Wifi, or put up shelves, but even then, I’ll still be a Dad, only then I’ll be a Dad to confident, capable adults.
Time can keep rolling. Now I don’t have to row, so I can enjoy the view a little more.