Every once in a while, my wife is seized with anxiety about how quickly our son is growing up.
I can't deny that it's moving fast. He went from two months old to holding conversations in the blink of an eye. He's grown from the size of a turnip to a little person almost too big for his stroller in what felt like three weeks. That's just the way it goes, I guess. One of the most accurate stereotypes regarding having kids is how quickly time passes, and it's a stereotype for a reason: intellectual laziness. But it's also true.
But whereas my wife gets sad about seeing our son develop, I see things a little bit differently.
I like watching my son get older. And not just because it gets him closer to moving out!
Of course I'm gonna miss the days when he liked to climb in bed with us -- not to mention the days when he could still actually fit in our bed without squeezing me off the side -- and still liked being hugged, and called us Mommy and Daddy. And these early stages of his speech development offer some incredibly cute moments that will eventually evaporate into correctly enunciated words and legitimate sentences and neither I nor Bill Cosby will have any more material.
Plus, I am definitely nervous about his tween and teen years; babies are inconvenient, definitely, but compared to toddlers they are a walk in the park. I figured out pretty early on that parenthood just keeps getting harder and harder and I'm not sure how prepared I am for the James Dean portion of the gig. I have no doubt in my mind that when he's 16, I'll be dying for the days of Thomas the Tank Engine and his insipid brethren, but that doesn't stop me from shaking my head at what often seems like a 10-year-old in a 2-year-old's body.
But I truly can't wait until he's old enough for me to share my favorite movies and TV shows and music and books with him. To teach him how to play catch and swing a baseball bat and ride a bike and drive a car and unhook a bra and pass a drug test. Not to mention use the toilet by himself and brush his own teeth and hold my iPhone without breaking it.
More importantly, though, I can't wait to see how his personality develops: what he's like, what he likes, who he likes, etc. He's going to be entirely unique -- provided I don't screw him up by burdening him with my own hang-ups and peccadilloes and fear of being kidnapped and weird shaving-based turn-ons... I've said too much. The point is, it's impossible to guess what the 2-year-old who loves "Yo Gabba Gabba!" and hates getting his hands dirty will be like in twenty years... unless he's a pothead, in which case he'll probably still like "Yo Gabba Gabba!"
The kid has a lot of personality already, but it's basically developing in a vacuum. He's still constrained by the limits of his experience, the scarcity of his interactions with many people besides his parents, and his inability to access or understand much of the world outside our home. It's going to be a while before he's truly independent, and judging by today's youth, we likely won't be entirely free of the little parasite until we're on Social Security. I am looking forward to meeting my son as a young man. But his life is already moving too quickly for his mother.
Our differing perspectives aren't exactly black and white. Despite my awareness of the fact that he's still only 2, and despite our often different approaches to parenting, I understand the sadness my wife feels when she compares the tiny little guy that used to curl up on her chest to the mini-person who is suddenly almost too big for his crib. And, like me, she is excited to see who our son will be when we're through with him, and he's through with us.
The whole experience is definitely a little bittersweet for both of us, as it surely is with most parents; but right now, Mom and Buried leans a bit more towards the bitter while I tilt slightly more towards the sweet. Seriously, these tantrums are no walk in the park and, besides, I had a child, not "Haley Joel Osment in A.I." I guess I'm just not one of those people that only wants the puppy; I want the dog too.
Through the years I'm sure my wife and I will occasionally swap perspectives -- for me I'll probably wish he were a toddler again right around the time he starts hating my guts -- but right now, she is a little scared of what we'll lose as our son grows up, and I can't wait to see what we're going to gain.
Unless it's a Juggalo. If you were to tell me my son will grow up to become a fan of Insane Clown Posse, I'll put him in the freezer with Walt Disney and Ted Williams right now.