I was driving home the other day and I got a bit turned around on the way home. My new office is a longer commute than I’m used to, and involves crossing a bridge. I ended up taking a wrong turn, finding traffic, heading over an unfamiliar bridge and not knowing exactly where I was. My cell phone was dead and I was on my way to pick P up from swimming. Suddenly I felt a panic – I was late. And what if no one could reach me? And what if something had happened? I cursed every stop light and raced there as quickly as I could.
When I pulled up, the scene was calm. P was not yet out of the change room and certainly hadn’t noticed my tardiness. I enveloped him in a bear hug. I leaned down to talk to him at his level. I indulged his desire to linger at the nearby library, even though the girls were waiting for me at home. We took out books even though he hadn’t returned the last ones.
And he was happy to see me. But he didt have that overwhelming joy that young children get. When I peppered him with questions about the day, he said “Can we talk later? I’m trying to read.” All of a sudden my small boy is gone, and I’ve got a kid. A delightful kid, but a kid. And I realized maybe that’s what I was racing toward. Maybe that’s where the panic came from – this feeling that I needed to get there as soon as possible. When you’re in the moment, their babyhood seems to last forever, but you blink and suddenly it’s over.