Recently I dined at Island Grill with my two daughters, who are twelve and fifteen.
Midway through our meal, a father came in with his two very young children. The little girl, who could have been no more than three, insisted on sitting at a table for two right next to us. The baby boy refused the high chair and sat opposite her. The father basically stood the whole time making sure the kids had what they needed.
The girl burned her tongue on the pizza. The boy attempted to eat his fries with a fork. Finally, the girl spilled her drink all over her shirt and the floor.
Their father smiled and asked me if I missed having little kids.
I paused and then said, “Oh yes. Be glad you always know where they are and who they are with, instead of texting them to find out.”
He laughed and started cleaning them up.
Later I realized I had missed an opportunity to say so much more.
I miss being able to scoop them up in my arms and cuddle them mercilessly. I miss bedtime stories. I miss unbridled enthusiasm for the simplest art project or trip to the park.
I miss an 8:30 bedtime and the quiet hour and a half of TV time with my husband that followed.
I miss afternoons with no homework, when the girls had never heard of STAAR tests, AP tests and the SAT.
Although I didn’t love Nick Jr. at the time, I must say it is so much better than Dance Moms or some Kardashian horror show. I miss Sophia the First! The Wiggles were our first concert, and now she wants to go to Free Press. Embrace Dora young mothers – you know not what awaits you!
I miss the Christmases when the wish list could be satisfied with a stuffed bear and a Barbie. (Plus a couple marshmallow Santas in the stocking). The Easter bunny could fill eggs with hair bands and Goldfish for heaven’s sake. The joy was in the opening!
I miss shopping at Gymboree, where no skirt hem is too short, and no top is too low cut. Last time I checked they didn’t sell platform heels.
Some of you will think I am truly crazy, but I miss Disney princess dress up clothes and American Girl dolls. Admittedly, it’s all over-priced and commercialized, but surely it’s a better use of time than Snapchat.
I miss the zoo. I miss the giraffes, Ziploc baggies full of Cheerios, and sippy cups full of apple juice. I miss the sweet nap that came after, and watching the little darlings sleep.
I wish I could have said all that in front of my girls. I wish they could understand how for me it is all slipping by so quickly. The teenage years bring new worries about peer pressure and heartbreak. Part of me wishes they could know all the things I have learned in 47 years because hopefully it would spare them pain and stress; and give them self-confidence and grace.
Yet that would be too easy. They must earn their own wisdom, and I can only assist in the journey with love and support. Big sigh!
As the little girl stepped past me to leave Island Grill, I looked at her feet and said, “I miss pink glittery tennis shoes that light up too.”