I’ve been thinking about a few differences between when the boy was really small and these days, particularly when we’ve taken him out to restaurants and other public places. Here are a few.
- We pack a lot bags. This is the same as before. We have to pack a cup with the milk that he’ll likely want in the car after buckling up. There are the other empty cups, clean cups for his water or his next sipping. Of course, since he’s not yet standing at urinals, we have pampers and wipes. The same six diapers stay in those bags so long that I check periodically to see if he’s moved up a size. We’ve mastered things and scheduled movements so that we hardly change him much while we’re out. I wonder sometimes if traveling to the store while parenting will ever not feel like we’re going on a road trip.
- We don’t take blankets much. My son has a thing with his blankets, perhaps, an unhealthy thing. But when he was tiny, he needed blankets all the time. I think it was an excuse for my wife to overdress him and snuggle him in another layer because she has a thing about heat. She likes heat. Bryce, on the other hand, has a body temperature like mine. He’ll sweat in a jacket even though it’s five below zero. Still, he doesn’t need the blanket as much. He’s social and he likes to entertained by all the people and things moving in front of him.
- We have to watch him. Back when he couldn’t move, well, he couldn’t move. It was easy to figure out where the boy was. Now, he likes to walk around, greet people, make friends who share his posture in life. He’ll introduce himself to dogs. He chases birds until they fly up into their trees. His eyes will follow, as will his finger as he points up and says “Uh-oh”. He’s mobile. He starts to hate his car seat if he’s been stuck there for more than a little bit. And every time we release him, we have to hold his hand or give stern instructions. I think this moving thing only gets worse though. I see it coming.
- We see him seeing everything. I got tired of how often I read some article about how having a kid changes the way you see things. To some extent, I’ve only found that irritating. But parts of it are true. Because the boy sees many of his experiences for the first time, it slows us down. We see that he’s seeing. And we don’t rush by what he sees. It can be life-giving.
- We care a little less. The fact is that our boy needs us less and less each time we go to Target or to Village Foods or to Trader Joes or to some restaurant on Saturday afternoon as a family. He can pick up his own food, or most of it. He can handle a spoon, though not in a way that gets all of his meal in his mouth. He can entertain a fellow shopper, talk to a server, introduce himself to people, and express when something is not to his preference. Our collective job is changing. It’s meant less care or maybe care shown differently.
- We still find things to laugh at. We laugh at life. We laugh at the boy. He’s funny. Even when he isn’t funny, he has a way of laughing. He may be saying something, something only God can interpret, and he’ll laugh. And we’ll laugh. I’m often laughing at us, at how lame we’ve become to laugh at a joke that we can’t even decipher. At other times, I’m, simply, laughing. At nothing at all. There is nothing funny and yet something is. And this is parenting. This is family.