I’m an old coot; my children are grown out in the world, and every so often I find myself ruminating in my head, or looking through a stack of old pictures, wondering how that time with them could have passed so fast. It’s the kind of wool gathering that brings one’s mortality into sharp focus.
This isn’t something new for me, this ruminating; I did it at each passage in each of their lives: bringing them home from the hospital as a newborn – hearing their first utterance of Da Da – witnessing their first time sitting up, crawling, standing, walking, getting a tooth, off to school, teenage-hood, driver’s license, high school graduation, college and on and on and on. And, through all of it, I was aghast at the warp speed that time uncoiled.
So, “BIG DEAL,” you say, “Everyone has encounters with, and surprise at, how fast time flies by, how fast life flies by.
Well, here’s the big deal, if you have kids of your own, or you are an aunt or uncle, or just were able to watch neighborhood kids grow up, you get to see them in many variations: baby, toddler, kindergartner, teenager, young adult and off into the world for additional transformations. But they just get to see you (us) in an unvaried state – an adult. That’s what we’ve been all their lives. Even when the kids were little and I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I was the old man, their old man. Every father, mother, aunt, uncle, and neighbor is an oldster to them as well. If you’re 20, 30, 40 (which is young from an old coot perspective), that’s old to a kid.
We’re lucky; we get to observe all their different “person-hoods” as they grow up. Just look at a few old pictures and you will see what I mean. They really are different people as they move through the passages of life. It’s sort of a rebirth, every few years. Their underlying traits show through, but they’ve become new people with each passage.
I was lucky enough to co-parent six children and to know each of them as 10 different people; that’s 60 people I have a history with. But they’re stuck with just one of me – “the old man” – figuratively back then, literally now.
The next time I’m in the doctor’s office and am asked if I know what month it is (and my answer is two months off) or whom the president is (and I say, Bill Clinton). I might get a pass since I at least knew the name of a month and the name of a president, but if I was asked how many children I had, and I said, “sixty,” it would be the loony bin for me. I don’t care; it’s the truth. And, I have the pictures to prove it.
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