“They’re growing up too fast, please slow it down!”
I’m sure I’ve been guilty of uttering a variation of the above phrase at some point in the 10 years I have been a father. I’m also guessing that we’ve all had moments where our children have left us in awe at their budding independence. I used to dread the day when my kids didn’t want to hold my hand anymore while walking to school, but the more they grow, the more I understand their need to blaze their own trail.
As I walked behind them on the way to school the other day, I watched as they excitedly talked about all the friends they were going to see and which classes they hoped they would end up in. If we accomplish nothing else as parents, I will always be happy that my kids genuinely enjoy each other’s company, which may or may not have anything to do with us but I like to think we helped foster that a little bit.
When we arrived at the school, both kids ran in opposite directions to greet the many friends they hadn’t seen all summer, with neither one of them batting an eye in my direction. This may have upset me a few years ago but now I actually enjoy watching their excitement as they pick up right where they left off with their friends. I’m also thankful that they are fortunate enough to have a strong core of friends to come back to.
I stood by myself for awhile, taking in all the sights and sounds, watching the other parents, each with their own 1st day styles and personalities, and hoping my kids would have a great back to school experience. I forced them both to give me a hug before I left because I’m still a dad who needs a little love and validation, but I walked away knowing that my kids would be able to handle anything that comes their way and that they had each others backs, no matter what.
When I picked them up after school that day and asked how their 1st day went, they answered in unison, “Good!”, before running ahead to walk with their friends. Good is better than bad, right? The way I see it, I can spend time stressing out about the kids growing too quickly and potentially hold them back or I can let them grow and explore at their own pace and be there for them when they need me most.
And, hey, every now and then they’ll throw us a bone, like how they’re still cool with our customary 1st day of school pictures!