“She is four years and 364 days old and she is spinning away from me like a leaf on the breeze.”
I wrote that nine years ago on the day we signed our daughter up for kindergarten. I found it today, on the eve of her freshman orientation. She is now 14 years and 118 days old, and I have no idea where the time has gone.
In just seven days my youngest child, a baby to me, will be a high school freshman, and I am lying to myself.
I can’t say I don’t know where the time has gone. I do know. It has gone into the scrapbook, into my memory and into the ether. I know that there were pigtails and book bags, cartoon character lunch boxes and library books that moved from cats wearing hats to young adult fiction.
There was the frog math worksheet we lost on the first day of first grade (she cried) and middle school math that she needed help with (I cried).
There were glitter pencils, acres of stickers and so many firsts — from lost teeth to sleepovers. Best friends have come and gone (and come again). For her it has been “her whole life” (long.) For me it has been a blink (never long enough).
The living twinkle I once described as “she of the emerald green eyes, baby fine blonde hair and exactly six little freckles across the bridge of her nose — has her new sparkly white shoes, clean socks neatly rolled at the ankles, two bright red hair ribbons and her lunch money carefully tucked into her pocket” still has emerald green eyes, blonde hair and a few more freckles across the bridge of her nose.
She now wears blue jeans, boho chic layers and a cell phone tucked into her pocket. A close friend calls her “Golden Child” and as a nickname — it fits.
Today is a slow day of a rare, blissful blank white space. My kids are in the living room watching Toy Story together. It’s like time just turned back to 2001 and they are 2 and 4 years old again.
I honestly think Toy Story is the best Disney movie ever — and probably one of my favorite movies of all time. Granted, I do have a sentimental attachment. At age 3 our son would shout “Again!” at the close of the movie and demand it be rewound. As preschoolers, both children would act it out, including maudlin dramatic flinging of their small selves to the ground when Buzz attempts to fly and crashes, spirit broken, to the floor.
Later, the friendships are redeemed, the day is saved and we all cheer to the family reunited. To this day we say “Run like the wind Bullseye!” and “Don’t make me get out my angry eyes!” And it goes without saying that you are never failing. Rather, you are “falling with style.”
Preparing our daughter for freshman year is far different than the early years. They use computers now. The supply list is short. I remember when the school supply list was a full page of crayons, colored pencils and the perfect eraser. Picking out notebooks was the highlight of the trip.
Purchasing the simple pack of mechanical pencils and index cards that make up their list, in the school supplies aisle recently, I was suddenly transported back to the years when my children danced eagerly in front of the selection.
There were so many choices. I can recall my daughter spending what seemed like a lifetime picking out the perfect notebook. Would it be a kitten on the cover or a pony? Perhaps peace signs — in neon or pink? I can dimly recall hurrying her along. I’m sure I tossed the final selection into the cart with a sigh and probably said something along the lines of “that’s an hour of my life I can never get back.” If only I had known then that I was right.
Today, as if to taunt me to tears, the Disney Channel is offering a Toy Story marathon, showing all three movies in succession throughout the afternoon.
As I type this I hear a voice from the television in the living room adjacent. Floating across a sea of dirty snack plates, tangled sofa throws, two sprawling teenagers and the space of so many memories of so many afternoons, I hear the voice of Woody, the main character and acting sheriff of the Toy Story realm. Realizing his days with his favorite child are numbered, Woody says simply “I can’t stop (him) from growing up. But I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”