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

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.

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300

Watching Her Bloom

Anna's Newborn Picture

Photo: Julia Ozab

We have so many dreams for our children when they are born. From the first moment we see them—those tiny, wrinkled, sleepy, screamy, adorable little people—we imagine what they might look like and be like in every stage of their lives. We can’t help it.  We know we can’t know what will come, but we imagine it anyway.

And then we watch them bloom, and they are more beautiful than we could possibly imagine.

Anna jumping

Photo: Julia Ozab

Anna is eight-and-a-half tomorrow. It’s been  almost eight-and-half years since I held her for the first time, since I said “hello” to the little girl I only found out was a girl a few minutes earlier. Almost eight-and-a-half years since we named her and began imagining what her life would be like.

Some of it was pretty close. We knew about her cleft, and her upcoming surgery, and the possibilities of more problems and more procedures in the future. But we didn’t know about her apraxia of speech, or the years or therapy it would entail, or her future struggle with handwriting.

We also didn’t know how resilient she would be, how whip-smart, how funny, how outgoing, or how deeply thoughtful and caring about all of God’s creatures.

At a coastal viewpoint

Photo: Julia Ozab

She’s bloomed into an amazing girl, and she is blooming into an amazing woman. And while it pains us to watch her grow up, knowing that each moment once past is gone forever, it fills us with joy to watch her blossom into the person she is becoming.

The person God imagined all along.

Five Minute Friday

Willing to Let Go

Anna walks through the grass at Hendricks Park in May 2009

Even when she was little, she wanted to go off on her own.

I dropped Anna off at school this morning, just like I do every morning, but today I had a hard time saying goodbye. I’m going to a conference this weekend, and I won’t see her again until Sunday afternoon. I’ll call her tonight before her bedtime and tomorrow as well, but it won’t be the same. I won’t get to hug or kiss her goodnight.

Knowing that, I was hard to end the hug this morning. Hard to let go. But I had to, and I have to be willing to let go again.

She wants to ride the bus in the fall. We’ve told her she’ll be old enough and as long as she shows she’s responsible enough to handle it, we’ll let her. But it’s going to be hard that first day in September, when she gets on that school bus and someone I don’t know drives her to school.

I have to be willing to let go.

And as she grows older, she’ll want to go out with her friends without me or Julia hovering in the background. When she’s old enough, she’ll want to learn to drive, she’ll want to go out on dates, and she’ll want to move to Corvallis and go to college.

I have to be willing to let go.

It won’t be easy. It will probably be the hardest thing I ever do as a parent.

But I have to be willing to let go.

Five Minute Friday

And a new linkup on the first Friday of each month …

Fatherhood Fridays

When She Was Small

Anna's Newborn Picture

The day she was born

“I can’t believe she was ever so small.”

I say that every time I look at one of Anna’s baby pictures. I remember what it was like to cradle her on my arm when she was a newborn. I remember her learning to roll, to crawl, and to pull herself up. But when I see pictures, I am always awed by how little she was.

Anna strikes a pose on the beach last summer.

Striking a pose

“I can’t believe you’re getting so big!”

She’s eight now, and I say that every time I try to pick her up. I don’t pick her up much anymore, and when I do I know I’ll probably pull a muscle in my back or my arm. But sometimes I forget and pick her up.

Ouch!

In the Third Quarter as the Beavers start to pull away.

At Reser Stadium last fall

“I can’t believe how fast she’s growing up.”

Eight years ago she was a newborn. Eight years from now she’ll be driving a car. Two years after that, she’ll be eighteen and on the verge of graduating high school. Then we’ll be helping her move—probably to Corvallis—so she can start college—probably at Oregon State.

She’s in a hurry to grow up. I want her to slow down and enjoy childhood while it lasts.

She wants to be big. To do everything for herself. And I want that too—in time.

But deep down, I miss when she was small.

Five Minute Friday