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My Kids, Those Days

When I first began writing for Family Times, my son was a 3-year-old in preschool and my daughter, a 1-year-old on my hip. The photographer for one of my early features captured a picture of me standing in the family room of my new home, my two children running around me so fast that in the photo, they are a blur.

When I looked back at that picture, I realized the carpet is different from the one we have now. So is the furniture. I didn’t recognize the clothes I was wearing, having long since probably sent them packing as my size slowly crept up. And my hair color looked suspiciously natural.

That was my life when the column that became “Mom’s the Word” began, in May 2003.

From then until now, in the space of nearly a decade, so many aspects of my life have changed, so profoundly in some cases, so seamlessly in all. In fact, it was only in the looking back that I remembered things were not always as they are now.

That boy racing around me in the family room, laughing and giggling as he made himself dizzy? The one with the little elastic-waist blue jeans and round wire-rim glasses? That boy is now looking down at me slightly, his sky-blue eyes fitted with contact lenses, a little gel in his perfectly cut hair. His cell phone is never far from his reach, and his laptop sits on the glass desk that somewhere along the line replaced a plastic tool bench.

His poster-sized paintings from preschool, some of which are still framed and hanging on the wall, have given way to canvas photos snapped from the top of the Arc de Triomphe and an artful shot of Big Ben. His first little keyboard that played “Old MacDonald” is now an upright on which his trained fingers perform everything from the Beatles to Mozart.

And the girl in his wake. That girl who refused to walk until she was 18 months old has not stopped moving since. From preschool to now, her last year in elementary school, she’s managed to combine academics with sports with friends, giving each 100 percent of her energy and enthusiasm. Sometimes I need a nap just from watching her.

She’s finding her way, my girl. From sweats and T-shirts to sparkles and skorts, she’s finding her own style. She once cut her long hair into a pixie, donating her pony tail to Locks of Love, then immediately started re-growing it. I marvel at her ability to commit to karate for five years but change moods in an instant. . .  and wonder how I’m going to survive her puberty.

These years have been like a 33 album played on 78 RPMs. They should have gone slower, but they didn’t. And one day I realized I wasn’t writing as much anymore about my experiences as a mom as about my children’s experiences growing up in today’s world, so “Kids These Days” was born.

Writing it makes me, once in a while, dare to look ahead to the next 10 years.

My son is entering junior high in the fall. The little guy who could spend hours playing with Hot Wheels, lying on his stomach and lining them up just so, will be driving in three years, heading off to college in five. This boy, whose face I remember so clearly staring up at me after his birth, whose perfect little hands would grasp my finger in his sleep—my boy will be leaving me.

And before I know it, the life force that is my daughter, the energy with which this home is continually infused, will also be gone. This child, who can spend days away from me without batting an eye but still calls for me in a thunderstorm, whose funny faces can make my heart dance and whose tears can break it just as easily, will head out on her own path of discovery.

All of this, in a shorter period of time than I’ve been writing here.

I guess I’ll just have to keep doing what I’m doing, try to live each moment with them so that the memory is at least imprinted on my heart, because I know from experience that the time will go by just like my children all those years ago. . . in a blur.

Maggie Lamond Simone is an award-winning writer and mother of two living in Baldwinsville. Reach her at maggiesimone@verizon.net.

Photo above: Amy Davis Photo

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