I bet some of you will be surprised to learn that J. and I took the boys out for dinner – -to an ice-cream place.
Okay, so it was Pinkberry…the very Crunchy Hippie Intellectual foodie version of ice cream. But we did it, and it was awesome, and here’s why.
I don’t know if I’m experiencing some sort of nostalgia or pre-grief or something, but L. is going to be starting KINDERGARTEN really, really soon. Like, in 46 days – not that I’m counting. He’s suddenly lost two teeth and he’s somehow smarter and bigger and wiser and like a real little boy. And I do mean suddenly. I’m still wrapped up in thoughts of him at cuddly 3, and as I blink my eyes, I realize he’s his own person now without me knowing quite where that came from. I know these aren’t unique revelations. I know all parents go through these moments. And it’s not as if I’m walking around in some state of despair, or anything – it’s just that I think, more than ever, I’m a little more attuned to just how bittersweet this whole parenting gig can actually be. It’s not that I want to slow time down, exactly; it’s more like I want to make sure I remind myself to really enjoy it while it’s going past.
And, to be honest, I want them to have an idyllic childhood. I know that’s silly — it feels silly to even write it down. I remember childhood as being alternately wonderful and painful, full of adventures and also confusing and scary and disappointing. I don’t want to shelter my boys from the confusion or the scariness or the disappointment, because I know how valuable those negative experiences are to shaping their resilience and who they will eventually become; but I don’t want for them a childhood that’s merely screens and technology and air-conditioned indoor playdates and safe, structured, scheduled time.
J. and I have talked a lot in the past few months about childhood and about what we had – our childhoods, by the way, were vastly different in several ways – as well as what we’d really like for our kids. In some ways it seems late, with L. being OHMYGODNEARLYSIX. Luckily, we’ve realized that we’ve done an okay job of giving him much of what we want him to have, anyway, despite not having had the time to clearly articulate it to one another during the past six sleep-deprived, often-harried, always-messy, generally awesome years. But our accidental success in this area aside, having the conversations has actually increased our focus on making space for the boys – and for ourselves – to just slow down and be.
Be whatever. Be silly. Be tired. Be crazy. Be wet all day long. Be covered in popsicle and sand. Be in the backyard tending tomatoes in pajamas. Be indulgent. Be TOGETHER.
Or just eat damned ice cream for dinner. Because I’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying to keep these kids healthy, and there’s a lot more time and energy on that coming. But keeping them healthy also means keeping their spirits alive and their eyes wide.
So we had a healthy family dinner. Maybe it didn’t look like the things we usually eat, or like what you might think of as “dinner,” but it was a moment in time that J. and I felt like we needed to grab and polish and make it shine a little more brightly in their memories (and ours). It was a moment to honor the time we have and to let our boys enjoy the thrill of an ice-cream dinner while they are still small enough (just barely) to be delighted by a thing so trivial. Tomorrow we’ll go back to eating vegetables and cooking food and being THAT family, but today, we are celebrating being a healthy family in a wholly different way.
Because with only 46 days until Kindergarten, it’s possible that ice cream will never again taste as good as it does right now.