First Days Never Get Easier

A collage of

A collage of past “first days” (photos by Julia Ozab)

Today, Julia and I sent Anna off on the school bus for her first day of fourth grade. Each year I think it will get easier, and each year I’m wrong. It never gets easier. If anything, it gets harder as we watch her grow up before our eyes. Year after year, photo after photo. It all happens too fast.

Why is that? Why do the days and the years rocket past for us? Why is she in such a hurry to grow up while we want it all to slow down so we can hold on to each moment just a little bit longer before it goes?

Is it because she grows more noticeably? Or because we don’t want to face how we’re getting older, but can’t deny that she’s growing up? Or is it because a year for us who’ve lived for many seems so much shorter than for those who’ve lived before?

Michael Stevens at VSauce (one of my favorite YouTube channels) has an interesting take on the last question. Perhaps it has to do with how we naturally perceive time. (Warning: Math ahead!)

(Go back to 2:07 for some background on additive vs. logarithmic counting, or to 0:00 to see people with too much time on their hands).

So if this is the case, and we who have passed the “middle age” of 9(!) can only look forward to our subsequent years racing past us faster and faster until their inevitable end, is there anyway at all for us to slow the rushing train down just a bit?

Yes.

So if you want to slow time down a bit, go out and do something new. It’s the novel experiences that stick with us and make for richer memories and fuller lives.

I can think of someone that makes my life a whole lot fuller than it would be. Someone who helps me see the world through fresh eyes and re-experience familiar things with a new sense of wonder.

Someone who keeps me young.

Anna's first day of fourth grade

2015

And as always, thanks for reading!

Wait!

Keep calm and wait … what?

Waiting is the hardest thing a child can do. It’s hard enough for adults, especially those of us who struggle with patience. For kids, any wait is interminable.

I think it’s because they measure time by their very brief life. Weeks, months, and years crawl past you when you’re five or six. Even nine or ten. I remember how it felt waiting all year until my next birthday—at the end of November—and then another thirty days to Christmas. That one month wasn’t too bad, but then I had to wait eleven more months to get to my next birthday. I was in a hurry to grow up and it seemed to take forever just to get from one birthday to the next.

I know Anna feels the same way. Her mid-January birthday is only three weeks after Christmas. She just turned nine and she’s in as much of a hurry to grow up as I was.

I tell her to wait. And enjoy being a kid while it lasts. She doesn’t get it. Like me, she won’t understand until she’s an adult, and not really understand until she’s a parent.

To me, time is racing past. One year after the next in a blink and a breath. She was a baby, then she was going to school, and now she’s one all-too-short year away from being ten.

I want to tell the world to wait. I want to tell the clocks to wait. I want to scream “wait” to God and all his creation.

But no matter how much I yell, the clock ticks forward. She thinks it’s dragging along. and I think it’s hurtling forward. She wants it to hurry up and I want it to slow down.

And yet it moves. Sixty seconds per minute. Sixty minutes per hour.

It hurries for no one. It stops for no one. And all I can do is savor each moment as it comes.

Five Minute Friday

Nine

9

Another year, another birthday.

Not mine, hers. Our daughter Anna turned nine yesterday. How is that possible? How could she be nine already?

Yes, I know, there are parents reading this saying “Nine? What wouldn’t I give for my child to be only nine again.” And I know I’ll feel that way again in ten years when she turns nineteen and halfway through her first year of college.

Yikes! That’s depressing. Back to enjoying nine while it lasts.

It’s the last single-digit year. The last year where she just a kid and not a “tween”—oh how I hate that word. It used to be that you were a kid, then a teenager, and finally an adult. That’s how it was for me and for Julia. But now, kids only a year or two older than our Anna are called tweens, and childhood dwindles that much earlier.

I say this every year. “IT’S TOO SOON!”

I miss all the stuff she doesn’t do anymore, and I want to hold on to the little bits of her childhood that are left. But like anything else, I can’t hold on. We all are traveling into the future at the rate of sixty seconds a minute, and sixty minutes an hour. One day follows another and none of them ever come back.

That’s depressing, and since I’m rambling anyway, time to get back to the good stuff. She had a fun birthday yesterday and she has two parties this weekend—one for her Girl Scout Troop and the other for her third grade class. Both will be lots of fun. Julia is making vanilla cupcakes with aqua blue “Funfetti” frosting—the first batch tasted great—and we’re having a book exchange at both parties in lieu of presents.

Which is okay with Anna. She loves books, and she got a lot of great presents yesterday. Including a robot dog named Zoomie …

Zoomie loves to play. She also responds to voice commands and can do tricks. But like any new puppy she has to learn first, and Anna had to struggle to be patient with her.

Yesterday afternoon, we heard this exchange from the living room.

“Sit Zoomie. Sit!”

Woof!

“No, not pee, sit!”

We had to struggle not to laugh too loud.

Cheerleaders of Faith

The Two Kinds of Pride

Cheetah and two cubs

Photo: Julia Ozab

I’m struggling with pride. Not the sin itself—though I’ve certainly fallen into that trap many times—but with the word.

Why? Because there are two kinds of pride. And neither of them is a group of big cats.

We all know the sin of pride. It’s one of the seven deadly sins, which doesn’t mean its worse than other sins, but that it’s foundational. Pride is a root human condition, like lust, greed, envy, anger, laziness, and gluttony, that leads us astray. We all experience these temptations and when we act on them we sin.

But there’s another kind of pride. The pride a parent feels for a child, or the pride a child feels when doing something good, noble, or generous. Plus there’s the behavior code of Anna’s school, a code called Cheetah Pride.

  • Perseverance.
  • Respect.
  • Integrity.
  • Diversity.
  • Excellence.

All noble ideals, summed up in the acronym PRIDE.

So what’s the problem? Well Anna is having trouble understanding the difference between the two kinds of pride. I don’t want to discourage her outgoing spirit, which has flourished at her new school over the last year-and-a-half, and I want her to take pride in her accomplishments. Above all, between her apraxia and her new braces, I don’t want her to retreat into a shell.

But I don’t want her boasting either, and sometimes she does it without realizing. The first time I caught her boasting I tried to talk to her about pridefulness.

“What’s wrong with pride?” she asked. It was a tough question to answer. I had to find a different word that conveyed the bad pride.

And I did. Hubris.

Arrogant, pompous, conceited, and self-important. That’s the bad kind of pride. So from now on I will say “pride” for the good kind of pride and “hubris” for the bad kind.

And I’ve expanded her already large vocabulary. Which is a good reason for us both to be proud.

Cheerleaders of Faith

Ready or Not

Anna and red boards

Photo: Julia Ozab

It’s the first day of third grade. She’s ready … I’m not.

It’s her first ride to school on the bus. She’s ready … I’m not.

It’s Monday through Friday out of the house after three months of summer. She’s ready … I’m not.

She talks about what she wants to be when she grows up. She talks about going to college and getting a job. She’s only eight and she’s in a hurry to grow up.

She’s already eight and she’s growing up too fast!

She asks when she can have …

  1. an email account,
  2. a Facebook account,
  3. a driver’s license,
  4. and a credit card.

I tell her …

  1. when she’s nine (and takes the Girl Scout Internet Safety pledge),
  2. when she’s fourteen (and shows she’s mature enough to handle it),
  3. when she’s sixteen (and takes Driver’s Ed),
  4. and when she’s eighteen (and shows she’s responsible with money).

Eighteen? That’s less than ten years!

In ten years, she’ll be an adult. In ten years, she’ll be going to college. It’s too soon for me, and it’s not soon enough for her.

But as much as she wants to hurry up and as much as I want to slow down, we’re both traveling into the future at a constant speed of sixty minutes per hour, and twenty-four hours per day.

The time is coming and it will soon be here.

Ready or not.

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