I blame all of this on Netflix and The Wonder Years. At night, I’ve been binge watching my childhood favorite. If you haven’t seen it, shame, shame, shame. It’s about Kevin Arnold, a junior high kid growing up in the suburbs in the late 60’s. The creators of this show have a triple black belt in nostalgia. I never stood a chance against these people. I who secretly pluck leaves from the bushes at Disneyland so I can keep them in my coat pocket and touch them after I’ve flown back home. I, who still have a lock of my 7th grade boyfriend’s hair. I who routinely study my class pictures from elementary school so I’ll never forget the names of my past. I haven’t heard that nostalgia addiction is a syndrome, but if it were, I’d have it.
Every episode of The Wonder Years gives me the feels, but it’s the ones that have that “things will never be the same” theme that really get me. When Kevin realized that his siblings were growing up and making out on couches with significant others, or that his family would never all fit comfortably in the station wagon… for a road trip… ever again. Those get me.
I’ve got a straggler kid I decided to have four years after I was done having kids. He does not have the same childhood that my first kid had. I have a lot of guilt about it, honestly. My fist kid was born before I had cable t.v. or a computer in my home, or even a cell phone. She was born in the time of thrift store storybook collections, and walks to the park and university, because what else were we going to do?
But my straggler, he was born into the time of my life when I serve 18 meals a day, drown in laundry, and juggle three additional kids and their lives. The time when I started writing books, joining fitness accountability groups and checking in with my online world waaaaay too many times a day. Lots of times he’s a little wanderer around my house. He plays, he watches shows, and he falls asleep in weird places that I didn’t even know he fell asleep in. Sometimes I count my 20-30 minutes a day of lap-reading a big win in the motherhood department.
So. Much. Guilt, you guys.
The Wonder Years and Kevin Arnold karate chop me in the face and the resulting bruise throbs: Things will never be the same. I’m stretching out of that toddler era and entering junior high drama, crushes, and battles of will. Except I’m actually still in the toddler phase because my little tail-end boy. It’s a weird stage in which I often feel torn or scrambled. Oh Kevin, can’t they all just be in Pull-ups forever? Can’t we go to story time and Walmart and call it a good week?
Kevin tells me no. He tells me that my three year old boy will soon have long skinny legs and locker. That his baby teeth will fall out and his curls will disappear and he won’t want a kiss at the door when he comes home from the bus. I know it, because these atrocities have already happened with my older three. I guess somewhere in my mind I thought I could stop it with the youngest. If I just don’t cut his hair, if I wait until he’s six to potty-train him, if I keep feeding him strawberry puffs from the baby food aisle…maybe he won’t’ grow up. Maybe those puffs will turn into magic pellets of eternal youth.
My three year old has been telling me for two days that he needs a birthday cake. That he needs a present. Ridiculous, right? He just had his birthday a little over a month ago. The fact that we only get one birthday per year is just a cold, hard truth he was going to have to get used to. You can’t give a kid two birthdays. That would ruin them and give them misconceptions about life. He’d show up to his first job and expect an essential oil foot rub from his boss.
I had a perfectly rational day planned. Dishes, mopping, yoga, paperwork. Somewhere the wheels fell off, though, and we ended playing “birthday party” for two hours. We made vanilla cupcakes from scratch. Scratch, I say. I’ve never in my life made cake from scratch, but I didn’t have a mix. And the only sprinkles I had were Christmas ones. But that’s okay, because the only two candles in my house were red and green so it turned out perfect. Yeah. I lit candles. We sang. We blew them out. We did it so much; we almost set off the fire alarm. I am ruining my child. He is going to be on welfare and wear wife beaters and scratch in public, I just KNOW it. Two birthdays. Pff.
Here’s the thing. My little baby boy will be gone before I know it. He will probably meet his wife at BYU and she’ll be from some exotic place like Idaho and she’ll steal him away and they’ll go to her parents’ every Christmas because I don’t know how to make good rolls.
After the cupcakes, we took a long bubble bath. One with obscene amounts of bubbles. So many bubbles you have to take a second bath to get off all of the bubbles. We played “Santa beard” and piggy toes. We sang Itsy Bitsy Spider until the water turned cold and I had to refill it with hot. It’s just time, I tell myself. The work out group can wait for my sweaty selfie and the picture of what I ate for lunch. The book can go on hold. The mopping can wait. The paperwork can kiss it.
Time with this boy is shrinking every day. I’m so sentimental that my heart squeezes when I look at him, stirring cake batter in is Mickey shirt, his diaper and his missing sock. So today, I’ll love him like he’ll be gone tomorrow, because it really does go that fast. Today, we will play.
Here are ten easy and free ways to say L-O-V-E with your T-I-M-E:
- Draw with washable markers on the windows or sliding doors.
- Use scarves or ribbons to dance to your favorite music. (We like the World of Color Song from Disney’s California Adventure Park.)
- Let them saddle up on your back. Stop for plenty of noisy water breaks and hay snacks. (Don’t forget to do a horsey burp.) Sneeze them off of your back or buck them off when you cross a “rattle snake sock” in the trail.
- Make a blanket tent for a snack picnic.
- Make shadow puppets in a dark bathroom with a flashlight.
- Play name that tune.
- Turn on music and play limbo with a broomstick.
- Play “Guess What Letter I’m Drawing” on their back.
- Let them be your hair stylist, or if you are brave, manicurist or makeup artist.
- Find a kid’s yoga video on Youtube and try it with them.