Renegade found out today that he’s been named class salutatorian, and he’s supposed to write a speech for graduation. This makes me both immensely proud at how far he’s come and profoundly sad at how quickly time goes by. When he was born (13 years ago, yesterday), so many people told his dad and me that time would pass before we knew it. I nodded my head and mostly thought they were exaggerating. (They weren’t. Duh.) And now that I have friends who are first-time parents, when I hear their sleep-deprived complaints, I tell them it will pass quickly, and they are the ones nodding and thinking I’m being overly sentimental/dramatic.
It’s really quite difficult, toeing the line between wanting things to remain the same as they’ve always been and realizing that “always” is a relative term. Renegade’s childhood has passed in the blink of an eye, but that isn’t really what strikes me most. It’s that *I* have aged 13 years in the same blink of the same eye, even though most days I feel as though I’m pretty much the same person I was then — well, give or take a thirty or so pairs of stilettos, a good deal of life experience, and a dozen tattoos.
The other day, Rebel asked me if I knew the difference between being a grown-up and being an adult. (No, I didn’t.) “A grown-up is when you’re over 18,” he said. “But you have to be really old to be an adult.” This explained a lot for me, because while I do feel as though I’m independent and self-sufficient and educated and all those things that “grown-ups” are… the word “adult” isn’t one I’d choose to describe myself. Rebel tells me I can get away with that until I’m at least 80. Thank goodness for introspective kids.
I don’t think children “growing up” affects us (OK, me) so deeply because we miss their baby toes and the smell of their scalps after a bath in one of those tubs that fits into the kitchen sink. (Well, it’s partially why, but that’s why grandchildren exist.) Instead, I think the remarkable thing is that you have a physical representation of time that you see every day, month after month, year after year… and then one day you wake up and you’re the mother of a teen-ager, and you think, “Wasn’t it just yesterday *I* was turning 13?” when, really, your 20-year high school reunion is coming up next year.
It’s really a matter of coming to terms with my aging, not my son’s. The most I can hope for is to not take it out on him, or to shelter him or helicopter-mom him while he spreads his wings. All he’s trying to do is grow up the best he knows how, and I can’t let my trouble grasping ahold of the time that’s passed in my life affect him. That being said, it’s easier to focus on him than it is on me. All the more reason it’s important to do just the opposite.