Another kid is about to go off to college, and I’m hoping we can cram in some Power Bonding during these last couple of weeks. Play catch; driving lessons; go to the movies; maybe some yachting or a quick trip to Switzerland.
There’s a slight note of desperation whenever I speak.
“Let’s go to a baseball game like we used to, and then to that pizza place we like so much, and then come home and play our favorite board game!” I say.
“But Dad, you’ve never taken me to a baseball game, we haven’t gone out for pizza in at least 10 years, and we don’t have a favorite board game,” she says.
These kids, they don’t remember anything! But whatever: I’m checking the calendar and thinking: I’ve still got two weeks to establish a bunch of memories. We can create some new family traditions upon which we will, in the future, gaze back fondly. I may rush out today and buy some chickens, goats, pigs or other animals so that we can later recall how I taught the kids the simple virtues of raising livestock.
“Remember how we used to go out on cold mornings and collect the eggs from the chicken coop?” I will say. That would have a nice ring to it. Much better than, say, “Remember how I used to always give you a ride to Georgetown?”
It’s not true that kids grow up fast. What is true is that it seems fast if you’re paying too much attention to other stuff.
Watching a kid grow up is the most astonishing thing in the world. I’ve said it many times: For sheer drama, nothing is more amazing than the first couple of years, the transformation of the newborn, this helpless, soft lump of flesh with a big head and stubby limbs, into a toddling, talking, willful, perceptive 2-year-old human being. And nothing is more bittersweet than sending a fully grown, intelligent, highly competent teenager off to college.
It’s what you want, what you hoped for. It’s a triumph for all involved. And it’s one of the saddest moments of your life.