“Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” C.S. Lewis
This summer, more than any before has confirmed the notion that I’ve been dreadedly suspecting for some time … my kids are getting older. Not just older, but older-older. You know – the kind of older where they don’t need you to be there when they jump into the deep end of the pool, the kind where they can fix their own snacks, ride bikes without you running frantically behind their rear wheel, and even lead the games of tag and hide-and-seek at the park. They don’t need head starts, or get-me-going pushes on the swings, and they can both now play more songs on a piano than I ever could.
They are growing up. And the thing is, I know this is good – a blessing even. My husband and I got married young, had kids young, and planned on growing up with them. Everything is going according to plan, except for the ever-present ache of watching time pass and trying desperately to memorize moments and make them stay. When I look at his mischievous smile, or her bright eyes, I could cry for missing them. It doesn’t make any sense, I know, to miss someone who is standing right before me, but that is a parent’s heart I’m afraid. A melancholy mix of loving every memory that has built the individual you see.
The other day, my nine-year-old told me he had a dream. He dreamt he was in London, sitting on top of Big Ben and reading a book. When I said what a cool global dream it was, he shrugged in noncommittal acquiescence. “Would you ever live in another country?” I asked him.
“Depends on the country,” he said.
“Well how about England?” I continued.
“No way,” he said without hesitating a moment.
“Why not?” I asked. “I’d live there in a heartbeat.”
“I know mom,” he said gently, looking at me with serious eyes, “but you and I aren’t the same person are we?”
“No,” I laughed. “I suppose we are not.”
And that is as it should be. As Hodding Carter said, “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots: the other, wings.” It is true, I know this, and yet there are times when I look at these two beautiful, self-assured faces that seem so ready to take on the world – and I can’t decide if I’ve done something right, or terribly wrong that it happened so soon. I am so proud … but it’s still hard.
There has been one thing this summer, however, that has sheltered my fragile heart. It has proven that we are not there yet, and there is plenty of time still for pretend. My daughter, nearly seven now, decided to create a fairy garden. And after taking care to choose the best doll house furniture, a mirror for admiring themselves, and plates and bowls to serve, she created a gentle rest stop for her fairy friends. In the early morning hours when the dew still held fast to each grass blade, I tiptoed outside and sprinkled glitter in a trail from piece to piece.
The wonder that both of my children had at seeing the results were heart-wrenchingly endearing. She has proceeded to write them small notes. He has helped her set up and check them each morning. And though I’m running out of different colors of glitter, and my hand gets cramped from writing as tiny as I’m able … we have captured a memory that will stay.
I have reminded her that all things move on … well, maybe I’m secretly reminding myself too, but for now – we are enjoying each sun-drenched minute of summer. We are splashing cannonball-sized splashes, chalking every inch of our driveway, writing stories, catching dandelion wishes, drawing comics, going to bed way too late, and waiting, as long as it takes, for the fairies.