The Memory of Parents
All you remember about your child being an infant is the incredible awe you felt about the precious miracle you created. You remember having plenty of time to bestow all your wisdom and knowledge. You thought your child would take all of your advice and make fewer mistakes, and be much smarter than you were. You wished for your child to hurry and grow up.
All you remember about your child being two is never using the restroom alone or getting to watch a movie without talking animals. You recall afternoons talking on the phone while crouching in the bedroom closet, and being convinced your child would be the first Ivy League1 college student to graduate wearing pullovers2 at the ceremony. You remember worrying about the bag of M＆M’s melting in your pocket and ruining your good dress. You wished for your child to be more independent.
All you remember about your child being five is the first day of school and finally having the house to yourself. You remember joining the PTA3 and being elected president when you left a meeting to use the restroom. You remember being asked “Is Santa real?” and saying “yes” because he had to be for a little bit longer. You remember shaking the sofa cushions for loose change4, so the toothfairy5 could come and take away your child’s first lost tooth. You wished for your child to have all permanent teeth.
All you remember about your child being seven is the carpool6 schedule. You learned to apply makeup in two minutes and brush your teeth in the rearview mirror1 because the only time you had to yourself was when you were stopped at red lights. You considered painting your car yellow and posting a “taxi” sign on the lawn next to the garage door. You remember people staring at you, the few times you were out of the car, because you kept flexing2 your foot and making acceleration3 noises. You wished for the day your child would learn how to drive.
All you remember about your child being ten is managing the school fundraisers. You sold wrapping paper for paint, T shirts for new furniture, and magazine subscriptions4 for shade trees in the school playground. You remember storing a hundred cases of candy bars in the garage to sell so the school band could get new uniforms, and how they melted together on an unseasonably5 warm spring afternoon. You wished your child would grow out of playing an instrument.
All you remember about your child being twelve is sitting in the stands6 during baseball practice and hoping your child’s team would strike out7 fast because you had more important things to do at home. The coach didn’t understand how busy you were. You wished the baseball season would be over soon.
All you remember about your child being fourteen is being asked not to stop the car in front of the school in the morning. You had to drive two blocks further and unlock the doors without coming to a complete stop. You remember not getting to kiss your child goodbye or talking to him in front of his friends. You wished your child would be more mature.
All you remember about your child being sixteen is loud music and undecipherable8 lyrics9 screamed to a rhythmic beat. You wished for your child to grow up and leave home with the stereo.
All you remember about your child being eighteen is the day they were born and having all the time in the world.
And, as you walk through your quiet house, you wonder where they went and you wish your child hadn’t grown up so fast.