Maybe it’s the smell of number 2 pencils, or the creaking sound of crisp folders being opened for the first time, but the start of a new school year always makes me feel a little nostalgic. Parents are busy posting pictures of their kids’ first days back at school all over social media, and you get to see the slow progression of time speed up dramatically.
How is that kid in high school already? I can’t believe how much older he looks. Wasn’t this one’s newborn photo posted last month, and now she’s in Kindergarten?
All normal statements and questions I’ve been uttering for the past week or so.
And then, of course, I look at my own kids.
Somehow, when I wasn’t looking, those stinkers grew to be school age. I took them to the playground the other day and noticed they ran faster, climbed higher, and dared new feats. I found myself a nice bench to sit on and looked around at the other families at the park. I noticed how the parents assumed the spectator role when it came to playground time. The tots waves and smiled, and called out “Mommy! Daddy! Look at me!” We, the parents, waved back, smiled, and cheered them on. We answered back, “Good job!”, “Keep going!”, and “I’ll be right here if you need me!” Occasionally, you heard a tot or two say “Mommy, will you come with me?” or “Daddy, come slide with me!” And as parents who worked all day, or were even home all day with the kids, this playground time was a chance to sit down, to take a breath, while the tots burned off some energy and had fun. We’re tired. So, the playground parents, including me, responded back “It’s ok! You go ahead.” Or “Don’t go far! Stay where I can see you!”
We willingly became spectators in their adventures.
Soon enough, they’re going to grow again, and they will stop calling out “Look at me!”
They will stop waving and seeking our words of encouragement. They won’t ask us to kiss their boo-boos. They won’t look to see if we’re watching as they climb higher and higher on the monkey bars. They will even stop asking us to go with them to the playground. They will grow up enough to go on their own, and with their friends, who will become their preferred company and source of approval. The lucky parents might even be told about it when they get home. We will still be spectators, though. But by then, the show will be invitation only. And I want an invitation.
These kids have, God-willing, many many years ahead of them to be independent. Right now, they are at that funny age where they are old enough and big enough to conquer the playground equipment without me at their side holding them up, but are still sweetly young enough to not want to. I have many years ahead of me of forced spectatorship. Right now, though, I want to participate as long as they will have me.
So, please pardon the nearly forty year old woman flying on the swings and barreling down the slides. Forgive her for running and jumping and hooting and hollering on the playground. I’m participating. And I’m going to participate the crap out of their lives until they force me into that spectator role, which will happen eventually, it always does. And when it does, I’ll sit down and take a breath and continue to clap and cheer. I will do my best to accept and support their independence. It just doesn’t have to happen now. Not when their smiling faces are still calling for Mommy and their little hands are still reaching for mine.
And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get that invitation to the show, to which I will always RSVP – Hell yes!
Don’t forget to check out our Back to School Supplies for Mom Giveaway on our Blog now!