Had a minor crisis in the G. household last night. The Boy was told to get clothes laid out for the morning (I do this with both kids the night before, because trusting them to find clothes in the morning is a dicey proposition to say the least...); upon inspection before bed it was discovered that he had only put out a shirt and socks - he had run out of clean pants.
A quick check of the laundry basket revealed that, yes, it was full and needed to be run through the wash post haste. When I went to load up the washer, it hit me -
The washer was full of The Boy's clothes only.
This was a first. This was the first time he's had enough laundry to fill the washer himself. We'd always had to supplement - when he was a baby, it was washing the various towels, blankets, cloth diapers, etc. that inevitably get dirty with a baby. Then his sister came along, and we combined their clothes ever since. It appears we've entered a new phase in The Boy's life; he's growing ever-larger and has the clothes to show for it.
We've got pictures of both kids all over the house, as do most parents. We've got baby pictures; toddler pictures; pictures from day care, and pre-school and kindergarten. The inevitable march to adulthood is well-documented, but the pictures have been around so long they've more or less faded into the background. Actually physically seeing that my son's dirty laundry is now sufficient to merit its own washing, that was different.
They're growing up, and there's not a damn thing I can do about it.
That thought is both exhilarating and terrifying. On the one hand, he'll be old enough to take to the range next year. He'll be old enough to (finally) lose the booster seat. At the rate he's growing, he'll fit much better on the Harley when it comes out of storage in April, which means more comfort on the back, which means more riding together - maybe even Laconia! On the other hand, it means middle school, with attendant dangers of bullies, drug and/or alcohol use, and the onset of puberty/adolescence/sexual awakening.
This is the stuff that keeps me up at night.
As, I would surmise, it does most parents of kids at this age. They're barrelling along towards adulthood, and there's nothing we can do to slow the progession. Nor should we - they're learning at a dizzying rate, with avenues of education available to them we could only dream of at their age. I cannot imagine being able to write a research paper for school with the advent of Google. Heck, just having MicroSoft Word must have revolutionized how papers are written.
All I can do is be there for my kids. That means being a Scout leader, or baseball coach, or chaffeur to gymnastics/karate/etc. It also means saying no a lot - no TV in your room; no staying up until midnight; no riding your bike after dark; etc. I've been called "too harsh" on occasion, to which I'll happily plead guilty. There's a fine line between being their buddy and being their parent; I fall squarely on the side of being the parent. Friends come and go, but Dad is forever.
The greatest compliment I can imagine - and I get it frequently - is when one of my kids comes up, completely unbidden, and tells me that they love me. I eat that up for breakfast. It makes everything worthwhile, and I hope they do it until the day I die. No matter how fast they grow, or how big they get, I'll never stop worrying about them, and I'll never stop loving them with every fiber of my being.
I will, however, stop doing their laundry before they hit high school...
That is all.